In 126 games with the Class-A Hagerstown Suns this season, the Washington Nationals' '07 4th Round pick, catcher Derek Norris, hit .286 with a South Atlantic League leading .413 OBP, a .513 SLG, (.926 OPS), 30 doubles, 23 HR's and 84 RBI's, earning the 21-year-old catcher the honor of being named the Class A Hitter of the Year this weekend according to an article by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo entitled, "Norris nabs MiLBY for advanced approach", wherein Mr. Mayo writes that the award is given, "...in recognition of strong offensive seasons," but in Norris' case:
"...there's no question that Nationals catching prospect Derek Norris is the choice for Class A Hitter of the Year at least partially because he put up extremely good numbers while donning the 'tools of ignorance' at the same time."
Whether or not Norris will remain a catcher for Washington has been a question for some time. Back in late August, the Nationals' Director of Minor League Operations, Mark Scialabba, addressed the issue in an interview with internet writers who cover the Nationals...
(After The JUMP)...
"Mark Scialabba: 'Our plan is to have Derek catch...Derek came to us in the draft a few years ago and he's got amazing bat potential, a very advanced approach at the plate, you don't see many hitters with his type of approach, very calm, and strong, short to the ball. He is a catcher, he started catching junior year in high school, so he has a ways to go. We feel very confident with our staff and his make-up, his ability to go out there and grind every day to get better. It's gonna take time, if you talk to any farm director, it's one of the hardest things to develop is a catcher...and you're going to have some failure along the way. Derek is not where he needs to be, because he's still in Low A, we know that, but his bat has has progressed much more quickly than his defense... "
Norris, the 130th pick in the '07 Draft, who was named the 2009 Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year in early September, had plans to play alongside '09 1st Round picks Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen in the Arizona Fall League before he suffered a broken hamate bone in his left hand in the Instructional League. Hopefully that injury, (which Ryan Zimmerman suffered and recovered from fairly well), won't affect Norris' success with the bat. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo quotes Nationals' farm director Doug Harris describing Norris as, "very advanced...with regard to approach and plate discipline," and Norris himself tells Mr. Mayo that hitting comes naturally:
"'Ever since I was little, my mom said I always had great vision, the hand-eye coordination...I developed the ability to pick up things right out of the pitcher's hand. I don't have to do a whole lot of thinking about it. It's kind of another instinct for me.'"
Fans of the Class A Potomac Nationals or Double-A Harrisburg Senators might be in for a real treat in twenty-ten...
• Derek Norris talked to MASN's Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble shortly after being named DC's Minor League Player of the Year.
• MLB.com's Bill Ladson's June '07 article on the Nationals' '07 Draft class entitled, "Nats stick with pitching at top of draft".