The Arizona Fall League, to this point, has given the baseball world plenty of glimpses at Derek Norris' batting eye; the Nationals prospect entered Thursday with a .273 average, but a .419 on-base percentage in the league. Thursday's game, though, was a reminder of the other element of Norris' game that has the Nationals so excited: his potent bat.
Norris went 2-for-4 for the Scottsdale Scorpions on Thursday, hitting a three-run homer, adding a double and driving in five runs. The outburst helped the Scorpions to a 9-5 win over the Surprise Rafters, again showing why Norris has the chance to be a special offensive player.
He is just 21 years old, but already has one of the more refined plate approaches in the minor leagues; he has a career .414 on-base percentage in the minors. And Norris hit 23 homers in 2009 for Single-A Hagerstown, though that number dropped to 12 at Single-A Potomac this year as he recovered from wrist surgery and saw teams pitch around him. But Norris appears to be returning to full strength in the AFL, and could start next season at Double-A Harrisburg.
Stephen Lombardozzi lead off for the Scorpions, going 0-for-5, and outfielder Michael Burgess was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Sammy Solis, the Nationals' second-round pick in this year's draft, allowed five runs (though only two were earned) in five innings, striking out three and giving up eight hits. Reliever Adam Carr pitched a perfect ninth in the Scorpions' win.