By Leith Dunick, Thunder Bay News Watch
THUNDER BAY, Ontario, Canada -- Noah Strohl clearly belongs in the Northwoods League.
Thunder Bay Border Cats manager Mitch Feller thinks he might have what it takes to make the major leagues one day – with a lot of work rounding out his game, of course.
“His bat definitely plays at that next level,” Mitch Feller said on Saturday, after the Cats made their long-awaited 2017 debut at Port Arthur Stadium.
“We’ll keep working on refining his defensive skills and work on getting him a little more athletic at base running and I think he has a great chance.”
A .270 hitter at California’s Grossmont College, Strohl hit 11 home runs in 2017, finishing second in his junior college league with 56 RBI and an invite to take his game to San Diego State this fall.
He’s taken the Northwoods League by storm this spring, driving in 17 in his first 12 games, tied for eighth in the circuit, despite a week’s worth fewer games under his belt.
Add in a .457 batting average through Monday’s 3-0 loss to the Waterloo Bucks, a couple of long balls and a half-dozen doubles and pitchers are already starting to take notice of the 6-foot-6, 230-pound first baseman.
“I’m swinging it well, I’m just trying to have fun,” Strohl said. “That’s the biggest key for me. Right when the fun stops, I stop playing well. I’m just trying to keep focused and have fun out here with the guys.”
Through Monday night’s games, Strohl had hit safely in each of his first 12 games with the Border Cats, including eight games with multiple hits.
It’s been quite a year for the San Diego native, who was overlooked in this month’s Major League Baseball player draft, but could still sign as a free agent with a team over the course of the next month.
He led Grossmont College to a state championship, a first for a San Diego County team in 67 years to capture the California Community College Athletic Association title, knocking off defending champion Santa Rosa in the May 29 final, hence his delay in joining the Border Cats.
“I played well in college. I think I’m being challenged a little more out here and I’m taking good swings at balls, finding good pitches I can hit,” Strohl said.
Hobbled slightly by a leg injury, he said he might have a little more in the tank when he hits 100 per cent.
“Hopefully more home runs,” he said.
Easier said than done.
“These guys are the best guys in the nation. Outside of the Cape Cod League, you’ve got the Northwoods League. This is where you want to be as a collegiate athlete. I’m just enjoying my time.”
Strohl's got a lot to prove to a lot of people.
“Coming out of a junior college, it’s a challenge. Even my four-year college, they probably want to see what I can do at this level. It’s good for me to come out here and prove myself to other coaches and to guys who have been at this level before.”
Those scouts are probably starting to take notice too.