Padres acquire Avila in Norris trade

Nationals send No. 23 prospect to San Diego for veteran catcher

Pedro Avila owns a 2.93 ERA over 156 2/3 innings in two Minor League seasons. (Patrick Cavey/

By Sam Dykstra / | December 2, 2016 5:50 PM ET

Pedro Avila was a little-known right-hander out of Venezuela when he signed with the Nationals in July 2014. On Friday, he was traded straight up for a Major Leaguer.

The Nationals sent their 23rd-ranked prospect to the Padres for catcher Derek Norris, the clubs annnounced.

Avila made his debut in the Nationals system in 2015 and posted a 2.12 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with 92 strikeouts and 18 walks over 63 2/3 innings between Rookie-level Dominican Summer and Gulf Coast leagues. He was pushed to Class A Hagerstown for his full-season debut this season and held his own with a 3.48 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 92 strikeouts and 38 walks in 93 frames in the South Atlantic League.

Standing 5-foot-11, the 19-year-old isn't the stereotypical size for a starting pitcher, but he's got two above-average pitches in his fastball and curveball along with a changeup that does little more than provide a third option. Combine that with his success and growing experience for his age level and there are reasons to believe Avila could become a solid chip for the Padres.

"We're excited for a couple reasons," Padres general manager A.J. Preller told "We're getting another quality pitching prospect in Pedro -- I think our scouting group is fired up about that. And the other thing that we've talked about is that we have a young catcher in Austin Hedges, who has put himself in position to be our everyday guy."

Norris is expected to take over for the departed Wilson Ramos behind the plate in Washington while making a homecoming of sorts. The 27-year-old was taken by the Nationals in the fourth round of the 2007 Draft out of a Kansas high school but was traded to the A's in a five-player deal involving Gio Gonzalez in December 2011. Another component in that trade, A.J. Cole, also rejoined the Nats since the swap.

Norris is coming off perhaps his most difficult pro season, compiling a .186/.255/.328 slash line with 14 homers and 42 RBIs in 125 games for San Diego. However, he's become a solid framer behind the plate and should be helped offensively with a move away from Petco Park. Norris is arbitration-eligible this year and still has two years before he'll become a free agent.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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