Nats’ top prospects - No. 2: Derek Norris

What a season it was for catcher Derek Norris. After fighting through a hand injury and getting hit in the head with a pitched ball, Norris rebounded with championships in the Carolina League and the Arizona Fall League.

Baseball America ranks Derek Norris as the No.2 overall prospect in the Nationals organization.

Aaron Fitt of Baseball America says Norris has the potential to be as good offensively as what the Nats have at the major league level.

“(Norris) has got more offensive upside than Wilson Ramos does,” Fitt said. “He was a guy that was born to hit. He has a really nice, short compact stroke. I think he is going to hit for average because he has a great understanding of the strike zone. That is very advanced for a young player.”

Fitt suggests throwing out Norris’ batting average this year because he wasn’t healthy all season and he just couldn’t get into a rhythm. Norris hit .235 in minors but then elevated to .278 in Arizona with four homers and 19 RBIs.

“He is going to hit,” Fitt said. “The question is the defense. Talking with (Nationals assistant to the general manager) Bob Boone, a man who knows catching very well, he says he was very pleased with Norris’ development behind the plate this year.”

Newly appointed Syracuse Chiefs manager Randy Knorr says Norris just has to find a spot he is comfortable in behind the plate to receive the ball. Fitt sees this as a part of Norris’ game he needs to fine tune.

“He does throw very well, he blocks pretty well, the thing he needs to work on is the receiving,” Fitt said of Norris. “He misses some balls that he shouldn’t. He is still young and there is time for him to improve.”

Long term, Fitt feels the Nats want Norris as an everyday catcher in the big leagues.

“Down the road, I think they will leave him at catcher because he has got a chance to have so much value as an offensive catcher,” Fitt said. “But if they need to, they can move him to first base and he could hit enough there.”

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