Hicks leads Mesa past Norris, Scottsdale
Twins prospect smacks game-tying homer, scores go-ahead run
After Derek Norris hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth to put Scottsdale up a run, it appeared Mesa's comeback attempt might fall short. That is, until Aaron Hicks fouled off a sacrifice bunt attempt.
The Twins' top prospect went on to double and score the eventual game-winning run in the ninth, leading his Solar Sox past Norris' Scorpions, 6-5, on Wednesday.
"The first pitch I thought was down, so I took that for strike one," Hicks said. "Next was a fastball inside for a ball, then I fouled it off on my bunt attempt. After that, I just tried to put the ball in play. I got a slider down and in, chopped it over the first baseman [Cody Overbeck]'s head and made it to second for a double."
That put runners on second and third for the Solar Sox without anybody out. White Sox shortstop Tyler Saladino capitalized two batters later, roping a two-RBI single to right field.
"It was a fastball away, he hit a line drive right over the first baseman's head," Hicks said. "I knew when he hit it that I was going to be able to score."
Selected with the 14th overall pick in 2008, Hicks batted .242 with 41 extra-base hits in 122 games for Class A Advanced Fort Myers. He finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, including a two-run homer that capped a four-run seventh to tie the game.
"I was just trying to get a pitch to hit," he said. "That's what it's all about. I got some pitches to hit today and took advantage of them."
The 22-year-old outfielder's efforts were enough to overcome those of Scorpions catcher and No. 5 Nationals prospect Norris, who went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs of his own. The day marked his first multi-hit performance in eight games and increased his average from .208 to .286.
"I was just attacking the ball early in the count," Norris said. "I was focused on getting a good pitch out in the zone and trying to put the barrel on it."
Norris also called a strong game behind the plate, getting five scoreless innings out of starter Chris Scholl (Angels). The 23-year-old right-hander allowed just four hits and a walk, striking out five.
"He has the ability to throw his fastball, curveball and change-up for a strike in any count," Norris said. "He was getting ahead of the hitters, forcing weak contact and getting in and out as quickly as possible. He was attacking hitters, not trying to be too fancy."
No. 3 Cubs prospect Chris Carpenter (1-1) ultimately earned the win by allowing one run in one inning of relief.
The Phillies' B.J. Rosenberg took the loss after surrendering two runs on four hits over two innings.
A fourth-round pick in 2007, Norris showed power and patience this year for Double-A Harrisburg, but failed to hit consistently. He posted 20 homers and a .367 on-base percentage in 104 games, but those numbers came with a .210 average.
The 22-year-old backstop's main goal in the AFL is to improve upon that one weakness in his offensive game.
"I'm just trying to be more aggressive at the plate," Norris said. "I felt like I took way too many pitches over the course of this past year. I'm just trying to put the ball in play and see what happens."
David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.