In 2008, Nola graduated from Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was all-state in baseball four times and the 2008 Gatorade and Louisville Slugger Louisiana Player of the Year. In 2008, he hit .447 with 13 home runs and 42 RBI as a senior. He was also academic all-state.
In 2008, the Rockies chose Austin in the 48th round. But he chose to go to LSU on a baseball scholarship, majoring in sports commerce.
In 2011, Nola passed up the Blue Jays offer after they chose him in the 31st round, choosing to go back to LSU for his senior year.
In 2012, the Marlins chose Nola in the 5th round, out of LSU. This time, he signed.
Austin's favorite off-field pastime is bass fishing.
In 2016, Austin Nola won the Arizona Fall League Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award.
"With the name, the tradition and the people who have received this award before me, I was completely taken back and humbled because I know that there are teammates and players in the entire AFL who deserved it," said Nola. "I am very honored to be a part of this tradition."
The Stenson Sportsmanship Award was established in 2004 in memory of Dernell Stenson who was killed in the midst of the 2003 AFL season. The award is bestowed annually to the player that most emulates Stenson’s qualities of unselfishness, hard work and leadership––qualities that Nola strives to be remembered for.
"Relationships last a lot longer than what you ever did in the game. I think that a long-lasting legacy is all about how you treat your teammates and how strong those relationships are bound," said Nola.
Solar Sox manager Ryan Christenson nominated Nola for the award in appreciation of the professionalism and leadership he displayed throughout the fall league. Despite playing a total of eight games during the AFL as a part of Mesa’s Taxi Squad, players who are only eligible for play two days a week, Nola left a lasting impression on coaches and teammates.
"He’s the best teammate that anyone could ask for. If you ever need anything, you just ask him and he’s there. He’s the first one there and the last one to leave. It’s paying off for him," said Marlins teammate Brian Anderson.
Under LSU baseball coach, Paul Mainieri, Nola was given the opportunity to become a leader.
"He’s the poster child of our program," said Mainieri. "It fit him like a glove." Mainieri’s coaching regime emphasizes an unselfish mentality in which players are motivated to acknowledge, appreciate and build upon their God-given talents. Because of Nola’s upbringing and the values that were instilled in him prior to his four years at LSU, he led by example, enhancing the reputation of LSU’s baseball program as a unit.
"As a college baseball coach, you have the opportunity to be a molder of young men. That’s why I went into coaching––to impact young lives and push players to be their best selves," said Mainieri. "If all of our players were like Austin Nola, I wouldn’t have a worry in the world."
Upon his call-up to the Low-A Greensboro Grasshoppers after signing with the Marlins in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, his lessons learned at LSU earned Nola a nickname.
"It was mid-season and the team was over it, just wanting to get to the end of the season. When I came up, I did stretch right while they were walking through it and they called me ‘The Captain’ from there. It stuck," said Nola.
Throughout a 5-year, 566-game professional career, Nola continues to stay resilient and positive through long minor league seasons as he puts his opportunity with the Marlins organization into perspective.
"I enjoy it. I enjoy coming out here every day and getting to work. I get to play a kids; game. I get to play baseball and get paid for it. I get to be around really good people, coaches and players," said Nola.
Austin is one step closer in joining his younger brother, Phillies’ pitcher Aaron Nola, in The Show. It's a possible dream matchup, which the two have been preparing for since childhood.
As Nola’s advancement personifies, there will always be a place in the game for natural-born leaders who play the game the right way and who are unselfish in their pursuit of greatness.
"I want to be remembered for being a good teammate. I’m here to help others––that’s number one," said Nola. (Taylor Rocha - SBNation - 11/30/2016)
It's perhaps not the position he'll play for the rest of his career, but for this year, anyway, the Marlins' experiment with Austin behind the plate at 2017 Spring Training continues. He continues to impress with his natural skills and his interest in adding the position to his repertoire.
"He's been good," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "[We've got] good reviews for him from the pitchers. Actually, the umpire came over and said he was good to work behind, gives a good look at the ball and things like that. I like him back there, and I think we like the fact that he can do so much, that could be something down the road."
Nola finished up the 2016 season with Triple-A New Orleans. He played second base, shortstop and third. "We'll keep him behind the plate for probably most of this season, knowing that he's got the other side of him, too," Mattingly said. "And that's not going to go away."
Nola's future with the Marlins remains behind the plate. "We want to give him a really good chance to pick up that position," Mattingly said. (Sattell - mlb.com - 3/9/17)
June 16, 2019: New Mariner Austin Nola’s baseball career has been anything but ordinary. Playing alongside current Yankees infielder D.J. LeMahieu, he helped the LSU Tigers win the College World Series as a freshman shortstop in 2009. He joined the pro ranks in 2012 as a fifth-round pick of the Marlins, but his bat didn’t come along while he toiled as an infielder in the minors.
So ahead of the 2017 season, he became a catcher. But after his second season behind the plate in 2018, Austin became a free agent with his 29th birthday rapidly approaching and no MLB call-up yet to his name. Enter the Mariners.
Nola signed with the M’s and reported to Triple-A Tacoma, where he promptly started putting together the best year he has ever had at the plate. In 55 games with the Rainiers, Nola hit .327 with seven home runs (his previous high in a minor league season was six), a .415 on-base percentage and .935 OPS. With numbers like that, it was only a matter of time before Nola got the call. News broke Saturday night that he was on his way to join the Mariners, which put a smile on the face of the other Nola in the league after his outing on the mound in a Phillies win.After such a winding road to the show, it was only natural that when the Mariners called Nola up following Saturday’s trade of Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, they asked him to play . . . first base.
“I came up in the minor leagues as a shortstop, transitioned to catcher and then now I’m playing first base today,” Nola said, just before he got the start hitting ninth in Seattle’s lineup against the A’s. “You can’t plan that.” Seven years after his name was called in the MLB Draft, Nola had to exercise just a little more patience following his arrival in the Bay Area.
“I can’t wait. I’m like, there’s too much waiting around. I want to get going,” he told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer before the game. “That’s what I’ve been doing the whole day, just waiting, waiting, waiting around. Couldn’t sleep too much last night, it was kinda in and out, so that’s been the biggest thing is let’s get this thing on the road here – c’mon.”
Once the game started, he didn’t have to wait long to get some milestones out of the way. He ended the first inning by corralling a sharp ground ball and stepping on the bag for the putout. Then in the third inning, he employed an inside-out swing to get a grounder through the hole for his first Major League hit in his first turn at the dish.
The previous afternoon, Nola had been mentally preparing at his hotel to catch that night’s game for the Rainiers in Round Rock, Texas. But less than 24 hours later, he was a big leaguer with his first hit and putout under his belt. And all it took was seven years. “All of the sudden, snap of a finger, life changes,” Nola said. (Brent Stecker-ESPN)
Aaron’s mother texted him June 15, 2019, and said she had incredible news. His older brother Austin had been called up to the big leagues with the Mariners, following an eight-year run through the Minor Leagues. “It’s one of the better days I’ve had, and probably one of the better days my parents have had, too,” Aaron said. “A good present for my dad on Father’s Day 2019.”
Aaron and Austin played together in high school and in college at LSU. The Phillies selected Aaron, 26, with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft. He made his big league debut July 21, 2015. The Marlins selected Austin, 29, in the 2012 Draft. Austin played 773 games in the Minor Leagues, learning to play catcher at one point, before finally getting the call.
“I wanted to get emotional, man,” Aaron said. “I’ve been through it with him in the off-seasons. I know how hard he works. Every year he always stays super positive through it. Always has the confidence. He always says, ‘I know I’m going to get there. I’m going to stay in ball until I get there.’ Not many guys do that. I don’t hear that from many guys. Playing seven full years in the Minor Leagues? It’s tough. Fortunately, I didn’t go through it like he did, but I’ve seen it through his eyes and have been with him through a lot of it. It’s just super exciting.” Austin got the call after the Mariners traded Edwin Encarnacion to the Yankees. He batted .327/.415/.520 with seven home runs and 37 RBI in 54 games with Triple-A Tacoma.
“I think I was happier with him getting called up than I was when I got called up,” Aaron said. “I had a feeling I was going to get called up and then it’s let’s great ready for the start. I think it means a lot more to me for him getting called up for how long he’s been in the Minor Leagues and how long he’s worked for it. He’s 29 now. You see a lot of guys getting called up earlier than that. It kind of shows a lot about a guy that sticks with it until he’s almost 30 years old.”
Aaron has faced his brother four times in his life: once in a high school intra-squad game and three times in an intra-squad game at LSU. (Zolecki – mlb.com – 6/16/19)
2019 season: After eight seasons in the Minors, Nola finally got his shot with a rebuilding Seattle club in June and quickly showed he had a very capable offensive game to go with a unique defensive skillset. The Mariners signed him as a Minor League free agent to provide some catching depth to their system, but the converted shortstop wound up playing primarily first base as well as some second base for Seattle while hitting around .275.
He’s just the 18th rookie in franchise history to hit 10 home runs.
2020 key stats: .273 avg., .354 OBP, .472 SLG, 7 HRs, 28 RBIs, 24 runs, 18 walks, 34 strikeouts (48 games, 184 plate appearances)
STAT TO NOTE — 2.50. That was the Padres’ team ERA in games caught by Nola, the lowest among all catchers who caught a Padres pitcher last year. Opposing hitters had a .644 OPS with Nola behind the plate, also the lowest among the five catchers who caught Padres pitching in 2020.
Major League siblings Aaron and Austin Nola are the stars of the Season 2 premiere of "Newlybros," a YouTube series.
In this Newlybros episode, Aaron, the Phillies' ace pitcher, and Austin, the Padres' catcher, reveal some Nola family secrets. The Nola brothers talk everything from who got in trouble more when they were kids to their baseball player college roommates to each other's embarrassing tastes in music.
And find out which Nola knows his brother best when Aaron and Austin get quizzed about each other. (mlb.com - 4/8/2021)
Aug. 22, 2021: Phillies' Aaron Nola strikes out big brother Austin in first meeting and dad doesn't know how to react. A.J. Nola wanted to celebrate but was torn.
His sons were facing each other at the Major League level for the first time and it was a one-on-one duel between pitcher and batter.
Phillies righty Aaron Nola, 28, struck out Padres catcher Austin Nola, 31, in the bottom of the second inning. It was a great at-bat for Aaron, who needed only three pitches — two of which were his fastest of the season — to oust his big brother from the box.
And A.J. didn't know what to do afterward in a moment that garnered fans attention. He stood up to cheer, then raised his hands in the universal "I don't know" move. (Cassandra Negley)
June 24, 2022: Last August, when Aaron and Austin Nola met at Petco Park, it marked the first time the two brothers had squared off on a big league stage. Aaron, the Phillies right-hander, dialed up three fastballs. Austin, the Padres catcher, struck out swinging.
Come December, Aaron had a Christmas present for Austin: the baseball he threw for strike three.There are still six months until Christmas 2022. But it was older brother who got his shopping done early this year.
Austin Nola picked the perfect time for his first Major League hit against his younger brother. He smacked a go-ahead, opposite-field single that proved decisive in the Padres’ 1-0 victory over the Phillies at Petco Park.
“Yeah, he hit it,” Aaron said. “He poked it out there. Probably won't hear the end of it for a while,but good bit of hitting.”
“Of all the people,” Aaron said. “Do it against somebody else. ... Yeah, I'll hear about it tonight.”
And perhaps again this December. That’s just the way family bragging rights work, and they’re Austin’s for 2022. (AJ Cassavell - MLB.com - June 25, 2022)
Sept 9-10, 2022: Austin was on the paternity list.
Oct 16, 2022: It was around 2:30 a.m. when Stacie and A.J. Nola came to a bittersweet realization while winding down from the thrill of watching their sons Aaron and Austin advance to the National League Championship Series.
"One of our boys is going to be playing for a World Series championship.” "Oh my God. Well, one of them is going to lose."
Austin, 32, the primary catcher for the Padres, and Aaron, 29, a starting pitcher for the Phillies, will become just the sixth pair of brothers to face off in a postseason series. Aaron is slated to pitch Game 2 at Petco Park.
"We were asking Austin that on the way home, and he says, 'I want to see my little brother pitch in the World Series because that would mean the world to me if I saw him pitch,'" A.J. told MLB.com. "Then he goes, 'But wait a minute: I want to play in the World Series!’" Since they were kids in Baton Rouge, La., the Nola brothers have had a typical sibling rivalry. In true brotherly fashion, Aaron always tried to play in the yard with Austin and his friends, but the older boys would exclude him.
Until last August at Petco Park, the brothers had only faced off on the diamond once before. During fall practice in 2011, then-LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri decided to put them on opposite teams for a scrimmage. After Austin knocked a booming double off the left-center wall against his baby brother, Mainieri called for a hit-and-run play Austin's next time up. He was retired on a weak grounder.
"He came back to the dugout and he goes, 'Why did you put a hit and run on for?'" Mainieri recalled. "'I didn't want to hurt your brother's confidence, so I needed you to make an out.' But I don't think that'll be the case when they face each other. I'm sure that Austin will be trying to get as many hits as he can, and Aaron will be trying to get him out. But that was the only time I had them play against each other. After that, every time Aaron pitched, I had Austin play shortstop behind him. And it was really a very moving thing emotionally for me and his parents and people that knew the Nola family to see the two of them playing together."
Mainieri still keeps tabs on the Nolas, most recently making the 4 1/2-hour drive from Baton Rouge to Houston to see Aaron toss 6 2/3 scoreless innings to help the Phillies clinch the final NL Wild Card spot on Oct. 3. He is considering flying to San Diego for Game 2 of the NLCS.
But no one can top the devotion of A.J. and Stacie, who have been their sons’ greatest cheerleaders. A.J. coached them through their freshman years of high school. When Austin was 12 and Aaron was 9, A.J. bought a motor home so they could drive around the country every summer for travel ball.
"That's what we lived and breathed, and they absolutely loved it," A.J. said. "That's how our family came together through baseball."
It didn't change in 2012 at LSU, where Austin came back for his senior season to play with freshman Aaron. Austin was the star shortstop, while Aaron became the Saturday starter. A.J. and Stacie didn't miss a game.
It has continued with their sons in the Majors. A.J. and Stacie visit Aaron on the East Coast for a handful of days, then return home to Louisiana before going to Southern California to see Austin.
The Nola parents were in attendance when the Phillies and Padres met for a series in San Diego from June 23-26, 2022. Stacie wore a T-shirt that read, "These are my boys" with the two club logos. A.J. donned both teams' jerseys, but when Aaron pitched, Philly’s went on top.Austin earned bragging rights, driving in the only run in a 1-0 San Diego victory June 24. The Nolas got together for breakfast and postgame dinners, with everyone convening at Austin's house afterwards.
"Of course I didn't know how much my heart would take while Aaron was pitching to his brother, but it was a good storyline and I was just so glad that it finally ended up happening," A.J. said. "Aaron was a little somber. He just wished the outcome was a little different. But we sat together and talked after the game for hours and it hardly ever came up. We were glad to be a family again, just sitting around and chatting about old times and stuff other than baseball."
Because of what’s at stake in the postseason, however, Austin anticipates he and his younger brother will maintain some space. In the previous rounds, they game-planned opponents together.
“We could’ve never imagined this in a playoff atmosphere,” Austin said. “I can tell you right now, we always imagined facing each other in the big leagues. But I don’t think we ever imagined it in the CS.
Just as they’ve done so far this postseason, A.J. and Stacie will be there cheering the brothers on in person. During the NL Wild Card Series, they attended a Padres game at Citi Field and Aaron’s start at Busch Stadium. They flew to Philadelphia for NLDS Games 3 and 4, which included Aaron’s domination of the Braves.
After the Phillies advanced, A.J. and Stacie returned to their hotel room and stayed up to watch the Padres do the same against the Dodgers. They arrived home on Sunday morning, catching up with Austin on the drive from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.
Did the Nola boys do their parents a favor by meeting up in the NLCS? Austin thought it might stress them out more, joking, “I don't want to take that many years off their life having to deal with that.”
"I think when that first pitch comes about… I don't know," A.J. said. "I'm going to be so locked in on the game. I may not even hear the crowd, I'll be so locked in. When Aaron pitches, I live and breathe each of his pitches, every single pitch." (CD Nicola - MLB.com - Oct 18, 2022)
Jan 20, 2023: - Aaron and Austin Nola smiled Thursday as they talked about their uncle, Alan Andries. He would have loved this.
He certainly loved them. He and his wife Maureen attended almost every baseball game the Nolas played at LSU. So much so that when Austin or Aaron could not spot them in their usual section at Alex Box Stadium, they asked their parents, A.J. and Stacie, where they were.
Alan died on Feb. 10, 2021, following a courageous six-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Thursday, the Nola brothers hosted their second Strike Out ALS event at Red Stick Social, where donors bowled and rubbed elbows with the brothers who recently faced each other in the National League Championship Series.
“Our uncle was so positive,” Aaron said. “He was so smart,” Austin said. “He loved to teach. Numbers, fixing things, financial things, he always had his head into something.” “He could fix anything,” Aaron said. “He could solve any problem.”
So, in their way, the Nolas want to do their part to help solve ALS. They hope their event raises local awareness of the disease and raises money to fund some of the research that ultimately ends it.
“We do it here, somebody else does it in the northwest, somebody else does it in the southwest,” Austin said. “Suddenly, wow, we’ve touched the whole country.”
June 2 is Lou Gehrig Day in Major League Baseball. It is a big day for the Nola family.
“Jackie Robinson Day got bigger and bigger over the years,” Aaron said. “Hopefully this is the same thing. Guys wearing Lou Gehrig cleats, jerseys, wristbands. Hopefully it gets bigger and bigger.”
Aaron first became familiar with ALS through the Phillies, who partnered with The ALS Association almost 40 years ago to become their primary charity. Around the time Aaron attended his first Phillies Phestival, which has donated millions to the ALS Association, Alan was diagnosed with the disease.
Alan attended the first Strike Out ALS event in 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world.
“He had a smile on his face,” Austin said.
Maureen Andries beamed as she watched her big league nephews mingle with the crowd. She is the second of seven siblings. Aaron and Austin’s father, A.J., is the youngest. The Nola family is very close.
“He just loved following the boys,” Maureen said. “Three years ago, Alan was in a wheelchair. He lost the ability to function independently, but he was so thrilled to be here. At the end, he could only move his finger. But the boys entertained us, night after night. If Austin wasn’t playing, Aaron was pitching. He could not wait for the games to come on TV.
“Alan was the most interesting man. He was a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley, but he could do anything. He could take a car apart and put it back together. He fixed things. He was the most vibrant and active person. He played tennis. He played golf. And then he gets this disease that he can’t do anything with. He was just the most brilliant, interesting man.”
When Alan died, Aaron and Austin could not attend the funeral in Baton Rouge. Aaron was in Clearwater, Fla., for Spring Training. He got the OK to move up his scheduled bullpen session so he could watch the services via FaceTime. Austin was in camp with the Padres in Arizona. He could not get away at all. He watched a recording of the service afterward on his phone.
“That’s why we’re doing it here,” Austin said. “We couldn’t be there, but we can figure out a way to make it mean something for everybody else.”
Alan Andries solved problems. Before he passed, he and Maureen talked about her future. Or, as he called it, her “fourth quarter.” She said she did not want to live in a big house with a pool anymore. She wanted to downsize and move closer to family.
Alan walked her through the process of buying a lot, and ultimately building a house upon it. Everything went smoothly. She is having another meeting with a contractor soon, and hopes to break ground after that.
The lot is on the same street where the Nola kids grew up, and where A.J. and Stacie still live. In fact, it’s right across the street. Maureen and A.J.’s brother Bubba lives on the street, too. So does a nephew. It’s a street of Nolas.
“Isn’t it amazing?” Maureen said. “Alan had it all planned. He fixed everything for everybody. I miss the heck out of that.”
Everybody misses him. Thursday’s event was evidence of it. He inspired them, and now the Nola brothers hope to help others beat ALS.
“He appreciated it,” Aaron said of being at their first event a few years ago. “It’s a good cause. It’s not about us. It’s about raising money and trying to help people down the road. It’s about everybody pitching in at some point.” (T Zolecki - MLB.com - Jan 20, 2023)
June 2012: The Marlins chose Nola in the 5th round, out of LSU.
Jan 24, 2019: The Mariners organization signed free agent Nola.
Aug 31, 2020: The Mariners traded RHP Austin Adams, C Austin Nola and RHP Dan Altavilla to the Padres: acquiring RHP Andres Munoz, C Luis Torrens, CF Taylor Trammell and 3B Ty France.
- Jan 13, 2023: Nola avoided arbitration agreeing to a one-year deal with the Padres worth $2.35 million.
|Birth City:||Baton Rouge, LA|
|Draft:||Marlins #5 - 2012 - Out of LSU|
- Nola is a pretty good hitter. He hits doubles to the gaps, but not a lot of home runs.
- Austin is a patient hitter.
He stays inside the ball well.
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Austin had a .271 career batting average with 17 home runs and 59 RBI in 399 at-bats in the Majors.
Austin came up as a solid defensive shortstop who can make some highlight plays.
Nola has a great arm, quick feet and impressive infield actions.
CONVERTS TO CATCHER
In 2016, an infielder at the time, Nola asked a question to hitting coach Paul Phillips, "How can I add value to my game?"
Nola got an answer he wasn’t expecting. Phillips, who played seven seasons in the Majors as a catcher, introduced Nola to a face mask, shin guards, a chest protector and a catcher’s mitt.
Then, in the Arizona Fall League, Nola got in some games as a catcher.
“It started out as an emergency thing, having that in my back pocket,” said Nola, whose younger brother Aaron pitches for the Phillies. “But I made big strides in the Fall League, working with Paul. I enjoyed learning about the game.”
That type of attitude is typical of Austin Nola. Brett West, the Marlins’ assistant farm director, said Nola is “by far the best player as far as makeup I’ve had a chance to work with.”
That and his versatility are two reasons why Nola made a major league 40-man roster for the first time in his career in November 2016.
Phillips said Nola doesn’t have any tool that jumps out at scouts. A fifth-round pick in 2012 out of Louisiana State, Nola has never hit more than six homers, never stolen more than eight bases, and never hit higher than.280 in the pros. Phillips, who is now the Marlins’ minor league catching coordinator, said Nola’s managers in New Orleans and in the Arizona Fall League both gushed about having him on their roster in 2016.
“Austin gets excited when he learns something new,” Phillips said. “It’s refreshing to work with a kid like that. It will make coaches feel good to know there are still players who want to learn the game and ask questions to help make them better. If I had nine Nolas, I could win a lot of games.” (Walter Villa - Baseball America - Dec. 2016)
No, it’s not quite the way Austin imagined his Major League career finally kicking off. Having grown up in the game of baseball as a shortstop all through college and his first five years of pro ball, Nola converted to catcher in 2017 to enhance his chances of finding a niche.
So, go figure. He’s now breaking into the big leagues with the Mariners as a 29-year-old rookie while playing first base. Nola got the call from Triple-A Tacoma in June 2019 after greatly improving his offensive game this season while primarily catching for the Rainiers.
But the Mariners have two catchers they’re already developing in Omar Narvaez and Tom Murphy, so Nola has started seven games at first base since his promotion and contributed nicely both with his glove and bat, posting a .323/.364/.548 line in 31 at-bats and cracking two home runs, as of July 15, 2019.
Nola says he never played first base prior to 2019, but he’s not about to turn down any opportunity to finally have achieved his dream of joining his younger brother, Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola, in the big leagues. “You can’t draw it up, I’ll tell you,” Nola said with a smile. “If you’d have told me that I’d be playing first base in the Majors, I’d have said, 'There’s no shot that’s happening.’ But I’m actually starting to like it.”
Nola’s athleticism and the soft hands of a longtime shortstop have made the conversion easier, but he acknowledged the mental aspect has taken some time. “I wasn’t a fan of even going from short to second base my last year in 2016 before I converted to catcher,” he said. “That was tough, just the different angle of the ball. Now when I went to first this year, I’m like, ‘Oh man, I have to deal with even more of an angle.’ But I’m starting to get used to it. I’m learning the angles—lefties with the hook ball, righties are going to tail back. So I’m getting a little more comfortable.”
Nola has continued going to catcher’s meetings every day and got one start behind the plate on July 4. He drew praise from manager Scott Servais for that outing, but his playing time for now will continue coming primarily at first base when Daniel Vogelbach is the designated hitter.
“Yeah, I still continue working at my craft. I love to catch,” Nola said. “That’s something you’re able to do and get a lot of work with pitchers, because they always need to throw, and I can join right in. So that’s always good for me. It keeps me in the game. It keeps me learning the different pitchers, different situations and seeing the game from a different angle.”
The breakthrough for Nola this year came at the plate, not behind it. His bat has always been the question mark in his game, and he acknowledges that his offense really suffered in the Marlins’ organization in 2017, when he focused almost exclusively on learning the catching position at the expense of time in the batting cage.
Soon after signing with the Mariners as a Minor League free agent last November, Nola headed to Arizona to begin working with Seattle’s hitting coaches, and he quickly latched on to the new higher launch-angle approach that has worked so well for Mitch Haniger and Braden Bishop.
Having a utility player capable of being a backup catcher as well as playing any of the infield positions is a rare commodity in the Majors and could certainly help Nola’s future in the game. But from his perspective, just getting on the field in the big leagues after his eight-season journey through the Minors is the biggest reward. “It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “I don’t care where I play. I’m just enjoying learning all the different situations. Being part of it is big for me, just getting the experience.” (Johns - mlb.com - 7/15/19)
- In 2021 with the Padres, Nola played mostly catcher. But he also played a handful of games at first base and second base. (Baseball-Reference.com - Jan 2022)
Aug 7, 2020: Nola was hit in the left wrist while trying to catch a 95 mph fastball from rookie reliever Yohan Ramirez in the 8-4 loss to the Rockies. Nola was expecting a slider, but got a fastball that caught him directly on the base of his thumb and wrist on his glove hand as he tried to react.
Manager Scott Servais said that X-rays didn’t show any structural damage to Nola’s hand and he could be available to return by Sunday’s series finale.
“It’s just puffy,” Servais said. “We got very lucky. Nothing was broken there."
March 14, 2021: Austin had a fractured middle finger on his left hand.
April 1-28, 2021: Nola was on the IL with fractured finger left hand.
May 7, 2021: Nola exited the game with an injury. Nola was diagnosed with a left-hand contusion, though X-rays were negative.
The hit-by-pitch appeared to miss Nola's finger . . . but only barely, as Nola quickly developed a large bruise on the back side of his hand. Tingler said the pitch broke a blood vessel, causing additional swelling.
May 25-July 22, 2021: Nola was on the IL with a left knee sprain.
Sept 22-end of 2021 season: Nola was on the IL with a left thumb strain.
Sept 28, 2021: The 31-year-old backstop underwent surgery to address a sprained thumb that he sustained in a collision at home plate with Giants first baseman Brandon Belt. After a few weeks of recovery, Nola should have a relatively normal offseason. And the Padres expect him to be a full-go for Spring Training 2021.