The Scottsdale Scorpions won the Arizona Fall League championship with a roster filled with Nationals’ prospects. Bryce Harper was a name most fans outside of the Nats organization would quickly recognize. But guys like Derek Norris, Michael Burgess and Steve Lombardozzi also made major contributions on the field during the Scorpions’ 30 games in Arizona, lifting them to a first-ever title.
Let’s spotlight those stars beginning with Goddard, Kansas catcher Derek Norris, who ended up winning two championships in a two-month span with Potomac and Scottsdale.
He was behind the plate for the championship game and caught for Nats starter Sammy Solis in the 3-2 win over Peoria. He had a very good Arizona season, batting .278 in 16 games with five doubles, two triples, four homers and 19 RBI.
Norris contributed a base hit and run scored in the final, going 1-for-3. You would expect Norris to begin the next season in at least Harrisburg after recovering from injuries and playing well in Potomac’s championship season.
Scorpions’ batting coach Alan Zinter says Norris really benefited from his work in Arizona.
“I like Derek,” says Zinter. “He is an aggressive swinger. The ball jumps off his bat. He can drive the ball. He has hit some long, long home runs. It sounds like a cannon coming off his bat. He has to be careful getting a little too hard and too jumpy. Once he recognized that, he has been able to make adjustments in Arizona he probably wasn’t able to make this year.”
Zinter pinpointed what made Norris a better hitter in fall league. The adjustment at the plate will help him advance quickly through the Nats organization.
“He gets the bat back a little bit slower and a little bit earlier,” says Zinter. “He has really good plate discipline. When he gets a little bit jumpy his plate discipline suffers a little. He starts chasing out of the zone and putting himself in deeper counts. I think he is maturing fast and this was a really good opportunity to come to face some really good pitching and feel he can compete at the next level.”
Nats pitcher Cole Kimball, who earned the championship game save, says Norris shined in the final against Peoria.
“Behind the plate, he called two runs (only one earned) the whole time he was back there,” says Kimball.
“What more could you ask for a catcher to do? He had a couple great at-bats himself. He got four pitchers only one earned run in the championship game.”
Kimball says all the catchers made his job very easy.
“We depend a lot on our catchers,” says Kimball. “The whole year I threw to everyone of them. They are all great back stops. Derek did a great job out there. I got to watch him call four innings. He did a great job.”