P-Nats' Norris hit in head by pitch

Top prospect regained consciousness, hospitalized

Derek Norris was the South Atlantic League's top prospect in 2009. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

By Daren Smith / MLB.com | May 21, 2010 9:37 PM

Potomac Nationals catcher Derek Norris was taken to an area hospital after he was hit in the head by a fastball in Friday night's 5-4 victory over the Salem Red Sox at Lewis-Gale Field.

Norris was hit by a pitch thrown by reliever Zach Hammes in the seventh inning. He reportedly was motionless on the field for 10 minutes before he was taken away in an ambulance.

According to a statement released by the team, the 21-year-old was conscious and able to move his extremeties.

"His vitals are fine and everything looks promising," said Doug Harris, the Nationals' director of player development.

Norris was wearing an S100 helmet, which became mandatory for all Minor Leaguers this season following a spate of beanings in the Majors last year. Manufactured by Rawlings Sporting Goods, the helmets feature enhanced protection from a composite insert and an expanded liner made of Polypropylene, a hard, supportive material that is also used in some industrial and bicycle helmets. According to Mike Thompson, Rawlings senior vice president for sports marketing and business development, the helmet can withstand a pitch up to 100 mph.

Norris is considered among the top prospects in the Nationals organization. Selected in the fourth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, he was named the Most Outstanding Major League Prospect in the South Atlantic League in 2009 after earning midseason and postseason All-Star status.

Norris was among the Nationals expected to play in the Arizona Fall League last year before breaking the hamate bone in his right hand right after the season ended. Complications from that injury kept him out of Potomac's lineup for most of the first five weeks of the 2010 campaign, but he's hitting .317 with a homer and six RBIs in 13 games.

Daren Smith is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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