VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Jim Riggleman raved about catcher Derek Norris on Monday morning, calling him one of the most impressive players in camp and comparing him to former Nats outfielder Josh Willingham in terms of knowing the strike zone. After all, Norris has an on-base percentage of .414 during his four years in professional baseball.
Not only is Norris an above-average hitter, he has made strides behind the plate, according to Riggleman.
"He really looks good at the plate. His catching is coming along," Riggleman said. "We really think he is going to be a big league catcher. You like to give respect to the guys who have done it. He kind of gives you that Willingham feeling up there as a hitter. He is kind of built like Willingham, knows the strike zone like Willingham and we think he is going to have similar power like Willingham."
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The Nats are loaded with quality catchers, including Ivan Rodriguez, Wilson Ramos, Jesus Flores and Jhonatan Solano. Is there any talk of Norris switching positions?
"Right now, he is a catcher, period," Riggleman said about Norris. "He really got his game together in the [Arizona Fall League]. He was more aggressive in the Fall League and here in Spring Training.
"We feel like he is going to catch, period. The strides he has made with our instructors throughout the system and [assistant general manager] Bob Boone, we are really seeing that he can catch. That's where it's at."
Last season, Norris played for Class A Hagerstown and Potomac, and he hit a combined .235 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs. He missed time because of a wrist injury and a concussion suffered after being hit by a pitch.