The Lancaster Barnstormers have added even more speed to the base paths with the return of infielder/outfielder Rico Noel, it was announced today by manager Ross Peeples.
A product of Coastal Carolina University, Noel is the 10th position player, and 23rd player overall, signed for the 2018 club.
Noel, 29, becomes the fifth member of the 2018 squad to have swiped 40 or more bases in a season in his career. He has a career high of 90 with Lake Elsinore of the Class A California League in 2012. The native of Lawton, OK grabbed 34 in only 56 games with the Barnstormers in 2018, finishing second on the club behind Darian Sandford, who grabbed 45 in 60 games.
Along with the steals, Noel batted .261 with a pair of homers and 17 RBI for the 2017 ‘Stormers. He left the club in spring training, headed for Leon of the Mexican League. After playing only 10 games there, the former New York Yankee returned to Lancaster, May 23. Noel’s contract was purchased by the Houston Astros on August 1, and he spent the remainder of the season with Class AAA Fresno and Class AA Corpus Christi.
Noel spent one month with the New York Yankees in September, 2015, largely as a pinch runner. He appeared in 15 games, went 1-for-2 at the plate and stole five bases at the Major League level.
He signed originally with the San Diego Padres in 2010 and reached Class AAA El Paso by 2014. Noel has also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
“Rico is a great asset to our team,” said Peeples. “He can play all over the field. We will move him around the outfield, and he will play second base for us. He has speed you can’t teach, to a level that is hard to defend.”