Baseball America’s top Nats prospects - No. 9: Derek Norris

Scottsdale Scorpions catcher Derek Norris’ bat has made a lot of noise in the Arizona Fall League, with coaches, scouts and media noticing across the nation.

Considered one of the Nationals’ top catching prospects for a few seasons now, Norris hit just .210 during the season at Double-A Harrisburg. But Norris said he realized he was freezing up a bit in the batters’ box this summer but now is swinging “free and easy” in Arizona.

The results have been very impressive.

Norris is tied with Cody Overbeck for the top spot in hitting for the Scorpions with a .328 average through 17 games, smacking two doubles, two homers and 17 RBIs.

Baseball America has always thought highly of the Goddard, Kan., product, and has had him rated in their top 10 of Nationals’ prospects for a while. In 2011, Norris is rated as their No. 9 Nationals prospect.

Baseball America national writer Aaron Fitt said there are several reasons why Norris is considered a quality ballplayer in the system, and the recent surge in Arizona only adds to his status.

“His year was a little bit confounding from a batting average standpoint,” Fitt said. “Everybody knows Norris has a great approach at the plate - very disciplined, takes a lot of pitches. He has a got a very nice, short, compact swing, when he is on, at least.”

Fitt said he believes Norris figured out what was going wrong this season and has found the remedy.

“Sometimes, I guess, he got out in front a little bit and wanted to do a better job of staying in his legs,” Fitt said. “Still, you would not expect Norris, with his ability, to hit .210. I think it was important for him to come out this fall and put that behind him and show that this is a guy that can hit higher level pitching.

“I think (his play in the AFL) is a very encouraging performance.”

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