The toughest thing for a pitcher when he gets traded is not just learning a new organization and a new league, but learning how to work with a new catcher.
Brad Peacock, however, got to breathe a sigh of relief when he saw who the Washington Nationals included with him in an offseason trade to the Oakland A's.
Catcher Derek Norris followed his longtime teammate and friend to Sacramento, where they are both now contributing to the River Cats' success.
"Me and Derek, ever since the (Rookie-level Gulf Coast League) when we first signed (in 2007), I've been pitching to him," Peacock said. "It's really awesome. He knows me and what I like to do. It's been great having him here so far."
Norris said it didn't hurt him, either, to already know one of the pitchers.
"We've been roommates for five years and when I found out I was in the trade with him -- I didn't know anybody over here -- it was great," Norris said. "There couldn't have been a guy I knew more than him."
Peacock is currently rated as the A's No. 3 prospect while Norris is the No. 7 prospect. Both have more than lived up to those rankings to date as Peacock has gone 5-1 with a 4.17 ERA in eight starts while Norris has hit .312 (43-for-138) with five home runs and 27 RBIs.
Both players said they are far from being finished products.
Peacock noted he "had a rough Spring Training" and his main objective is to work on his command of his offspeed pitches.
Norris hit 20 home runs and posted a solid .367 on-base percentage last year at Double-A Harrisburg, but he also hit just .210 and struck out 117 times in 334 at-bats.
"I was taking way too many pitches last year, getting behind in counts and obviously your percentages go way down when you take strikes," he said. "I'm just trying to get into a good position to hit and put the barrel on the baseball."
Both players agreed that their paths to the Majors are more open with Oakland than with Washington.
"Washington, they're getting a lot better and I'm happy for them, I'm seeing a lot of guys I played with getting callups and doing well, but I just feel like over here they shuffle out players often," Norris said. "It's a great opportunity really for anybody to come over here and make the big-league club."
"There's definitely a better opportunity here than it was over there," Peacock added. "I'm happy right now where I'm at (but) I've got a lot of work to do before I go back up."
For now, though, both players will focus on helping Sacramento (28-15) win its 11th division title in its 13th season of existence.
"I've never been a part of a team that's had that much of a winning tradition in Minor League Baseball," Norris said. "It's nice."
Prospects rising: Omaha received a boost this week when two of the Royals' top prospects, outfielder Wil Myers (No. 2) and right-hander Jake Odorizzi (No. 4), joined the roster. Myers, who hit .343 with 13 home runs at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, went a combined 5-for-9 on Thursday and Friday. Odorizzi, 4-2 with a 3.37 ERA at Double-A, started Friday's game and allowed three runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out four in 6 2/3 innings but didn't factor into the decision.
Bauer power hour: No. 1 D-backs prospect Trevor Bauer also made his Triple-A debut with Reno on Friday. The No. 8 overall prospect in the Minors dominated Oklahoma City, allowing just one run on four hits and one walk while striking out 11 in eight innings. The Aces held on to give him the victory by a 2-1 score.
Changing role: No. 4 Padres prospect Jedd Gyorko moved up to Tucson this week as well, albeit playing a new position. Formerly a third baseman, this year Gyorko has switched to second base, where San Diego has a clear need. Gyorko hit .262 with six home runs at Double-A San Antonio and went 3-for-11 with three runs scored in his first three games with Tucson.