The Arizona Fall League announced the rosters for this Saturday's Rising Stars Game this afternoon. In the game, which will be broadcast live on the MLB Network and MLB.tv starting at 8:10 pm in the East, 5:10 pm in Arizona, Nats fans will get another opportunity to see the top catching prospect in the organization, 22-year-old Derek Norris, as well as 19-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper, the top prospect overall in the Nationals' system and the no.1 overall pick of the 2010 Draft. Norris, along with Houston Astros' backstop Jason Castro, will serve as the catchers for the East division's Rising Stars' squad. Harper will be in the East's outfield.
"East catchers: #Astros Jason Castro, #Nationals Derek Norris #AFLRisingStars"
"East outfielders: #Orioles Xavier Avery, #Pirates Robbie Grossman, #Nationals Bryce Harper #AFLRisingStars"
Harper, who turned 19 in October, finished his first pro season with 24 doubles, 17 HR's, 26 stolen bases and a .297/.392/.501 slash in 109 games and 452 plate appearances between Class-A Hagerstown and Double-A Harrisburg. Norris, an '07 4th Round pick out of Goddard High School in Goddard, Kansas, spent the entire 2011 season at Double-A Harrisburg, putting up a .210/.367/.446 slash with 17 doubles and 20 HR's. In AFL action, both hitters have caught fire. Harper's in the midst of a ten-game hit streak over which he's hit three doubles and four home runs while posting a .385/.444/.821 line that has him at .276/.348/.569 in 15 games. Norris, who has hits in eight-straight games and nine of the last ten, has a .412/.511/.647 slash, two doubles and two home runs over that stretch, and a .356/.446/.533 line overall in Arizona.
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo spoke about both players recently, telling reporters in a conference call last week that though they were concerned with Norris' AVG at Double-A in 2011, they are pleased with the development they've seen overall.
"We know [Norris] can hit," Rizzo said, "We know he's got power, he's a high on base percentage guy. He's got a short compact stroke. We know he can hit. Package that with a plus arm, and now his feet are working, he's blocking pitches and pitchers love throwing to him. That's a really exciting package for us going into next season."
As for Harper, Rizzo said, "Bryce is playing very, very well. The last six or seven games he's been on a hot streak and playing good defense. His defense has improved dramatically. His baserunning has improved dramatically. His propensity to steal bases has been terrific. He's moving great, he feels great and he's swinging the bat real well."
Nats fans get another chance to see two of the top prospects in the organization this Saturday, and see them playing against the top prospects from around the majors.