A’s call up catching prospect Derek Norris for MLB debut

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Derek Norris, the catching prospect acquired from the Nationals as part of the offseason swap for Gio Gonzalez, has been called up by the A’s and is making his big-league debut behind the plate today.

Norris is one of the more interesting prospects in baseball, as he’s been very productive in the minors despite low batting averages thanks to tons of walks and power.

Last year, for instance, he hit just .210 in 104 games at Double-A … but smacked 20 homers and drew 77 walks for a strong .367 on-base percentage and .446 slugging percentage. Norris has clearly altered his approach somewhat this season, cutting back on his walks in the name of making more contact and the result is a .273 batting average with a slightly lower OPS than last year.

His power hasn’t gone anywhere with eight homers and 14 doubles in 55 games at Triple-A, so if Norris can continue to hit above .250 in the majors he has a chance to be one of the more productive catchers in the league. For now he’ll try to stick in Oakland at age 23, although with Kurt Suzuki around it’s tough to see a ton of starts behind the plate available for Norris.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.