A Closer Look: Derek Norris


Over the next couple of days Swingin’ A’s will take a closer look at some of the prospects the Athletics scored in the Trevor CahillGio Gonzalez, and Andrew Bailey trades. We’ll now turn our attention to catcher Derek Norris a prospect hauled in during the Gonzalez trade. 

Since the A’s seem committed to a second youth-movement, everyone on the team who’s name isn’t Jemile Weeks is considered up for grabs. The A’s may not be actively shopping their players, but the rebuilding green-and-gold crew are definitely open-minded when it comes to trading their players.

The A’s are stockpiling on young talent and seem focused this time with their rebuilding efforts. General manager Billy Beane was rather inconsistent with his first dismantling. After trading pitcher Dan Haren and outfielder Nick Swisher before the 2008 season, many fans around baseball considered Oakland a rebuilding franchise.

Beane did a complete 360 when he landed All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday before the 2009 season, suggesting that there was a hint of inconsistency in his approach to rebuild. The A’s gave up a lot of young talent in exchange for Holliday, who was traded later in the season to the St. Louis Cardinals.

This time around, however, the A’s and Beane seem especially focused in their newest remodeling efforts. They’re hopeful they’ll get the approval from MLB and Bud Selig to build a new stadium in San Jose and are currently operating in a manner that suggests they’re confident they’ll receive approval.

Beane will likely continue on with his rebuilding efforts as a result. He’ll likely try to be a little more consistent with his approach this time around as well.

Derek Norris, a former top catching prospect in Washington’s system, is now a member of the green and gold thanks to Beane’s rebuilding efforts. Norris, 22, is a player who could potentially serve as Kurt Suzuki‘s successor.

Norris isn’t a great contact hitter, as evident by his low .210 batting average this year with Washington’s Double-A associate. He is, however, a patient hitter and definitely draws his share of walks. He posted a walk rate of 22.3 BB% in 2010 and while that total fell to 18.2 % in 2011, Norris is still a guy who can get on base.

He also brings a little power to table, which for an A’s team that struggled all year with the long-ball, is a definite plus. That power, however, comes at a price. He does tend to strikeout a lot, as suggested by his 27.7 K%. That’s definitely not something worth admiring, but Norris is still a talented prospect who should add a little power to Oakland’s lineup.

This past season, Norris posted a .210/.367/.446 slash line and hit 20 HR and 46 RBIs with Washington’s Double-A team. Defensively, Norris has a solid arm behind the plate. MLB.com currently ranks Norris as Oakland’s fifth best prospect.

The A’s like Suzuki, but given their recent retooling efforts, I wouldn’t say Suzuki is a safe-bet in Oakland. Beane is really committed to this rebuild, so it wouldn’t surprise if he traded his 28-year old catcher and handed the job to a youngster like Norris.

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