Norris plates career-high five runs
Nationals catching prospect slugs third longball in the AFL
Former fourth-round Draft pick Derek Norris has brought his solid 2010 form from the Carolina League to Arizona.
The slugging Nationals catching prospect homered and plated a career-high five runs as the Scottsdale Scorpions beat the Surprise Rafters, 9-5, on Thursday.
Norris, MiLB.com's Class A Hitter of the Year in 2009, gave the Scorpions the lead in the second inning with a two-RBI double, and he snapped a 5-5 tie with a three-run blast to left field in the bottom of the eighth.
"There are always guys on base for me," Norris said, "so I'm bound to get a couple hits. In the second inning, I knew [Brian Broderick] was going to try and get ahead with a fastball because his breaking stuff wasn't working, so I just tried to keep my hands in."
Similarly, Norris knew what to expect when he came to the plate with two men on in the eighth.
"Some of my teammates have faced Rex [Brothers] before and they said he had a hard sinker, so I knew not to look inside because it would run in on me," he said. "He threw his sinker away and it started to run back across the plate. It was a perfect pitch to hit."
The catcher hit 12 homers and drove in 49 runs for the Class A Advanced Potomac Nationals in 94 games this season.
Norris' third longball ties him for the AFL home run lead, while his 12 RBIs through the first nine games leaves him two off leader Marc Krauss' pace.
The 21-year-old right-hander has hit safely in six of his appearances, and while he is hitting .308 overall, he has also drawn nine walks while striking out seven times. Six of Norris' seven hits have gone for extra bases.
Since being drafted in 2007, Norris has played at a different level each year. He started in the Gulf Coast League in '07 and then played in the short-season New York-Penn League in '08.
The backstop was a South Atlantic League Midseason and Postseason All-Star with the Hagerstown Suns and he was voted as the league's Most Outstanding Major League Prospect in 2009.
While his offense has remained steady, Norris said he hopes to work more on the defensive side of his game this winter.
"I have always had doubts about my defense so I want to impress the scouts and whoever else is watching me play," he said.
"I throw fairly well and my blocking is good, but I want to work on receiving the ball better. I have a tendency to drop a few balls I should catch, but as long as I keep progressing and working, I'll get to where I want to be."
Conor Gillaspie (Giants) homered twice and Charles Blackmon (Rockies) also went yard for the Scorpions on Thursday. Rex Brothers (Rockies) picked up his first victory, tossing one scoreless inning.
Rafters starter Brian Broderick (Cardinals) gave up five runs on nine hits over four innings, but Tigers prospect Brendan Wise (0-1) took the loss after surrendering four runs -- three earned -- in the eighth.
Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.