Not everyone who goes to Japan tears up the minor leagues before going abroad. Some end up on a crazy journey.
Tenures: 2015 with Oakland Athletics, 2020 with the Seibu Lions
Statistics with Oakland: Six games, (1-2), 29.0 IP, 5.13 FIP, 1.621 WHIP, 4.7 K/9
Statistics with Lions: Five games, (1-2), 21.1 IP, 1.500 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Nolin was drafted in the 50th round (2008) out of high school and 48th after his first year in junior college (2009). It wasn't until his second year of JuCo where his stock went up to being a sixth round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010.
After a few years in the Blue Jays system, he made his MLB debut in 2013 as a starter, but was hit around for six runs allowed in 1.1 innings against the Baltimore Orioles, giving up a three-run HR to J.J. Hardy in the process. It was his only Major League appearance for the year.
Nolin earned his way up again as a September call up for 2014, but only made one mop up appearance in a blowout Blue Jays win.
His career took a change after the 2014 season when he part of a package traded to the Oakland Athletics in a blockbuster trade for Josh Donaldson. Nolin was viewed as a fringe prospect at 24 years old, less upside, but with hopes to contribute sooner than later to thee Oakland A's.
Like the previous season, he spent most of 2015 with the Nashville Sounds in AAA until he became a September call up. He had one win in six starts where that victory happened in Texas against the Rangers. Nolin was later designated for assignment in February 2016.
His journey took on a lot of changes spending stints in minor league organizations of the Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners and even the independent league Long Island Ducks. He also had Tommy John surgery after being with the Brewers, which sidelined him for 2016 and 2017.
|Nolin seen with Cory Spangenberg at his introductory press conference|
The Lions signed him after the 2019 season with hopes he could be some left-handed starting depth. Even with COVID-19 delaying the 2020 season, he didn't make his ichi-gun NPB debut until past the halfway mark on August 29. He won his first career start with six innings and three earned runs against the Rakuten Eagles. By being the winning pitcher, he earned a Hero Interview. His tape from the debut can be seen here:
Nolin's early success was short lived as he lost two outings and had a no decision in another. His final ichi-gun appearance was on September 26, where he left the game after one inning and aggravated an injury. The video below shows tape from his quality start and no decision here.
With his inability to stay healthy, the Lions chose to not retain him after the year ended and he is currently a free agent at the time of this writing. He was the only foreign import on the Lions roster from 2020 to not be given a contract for 2021.
While his time with the Long Island Ducks was short in 2019, he was dominant and the team won an Atlantic League championship. Nolin was given a ring for his contributions and didn't open his package until he returned from Japan as shown in this video. All players from the 2019 team had a virtual ring ceremony in 2020 as the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This concludes our 2021 update to the A's and Lions series. As Zach Neal and Brian Schlitter are currently playing baseball with both teams, they can still write their story. Until next time or more players come and go, this series should make more updates as time goes on.
Others in Series: