Minor Monday: Norby thinks his numbers can get better - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Minor Monday: Norby thinks his numbers can get better

Photo Credit: Kim Klement USA TODAY Sports


By the numbers, it’s been a perfectly solid three months for Connor Norby.

The 23-year-old second baseman — Baltimore’s second-round selection in the 2021 draft — has churned out a .277 average with nine homers and 46 RBIs while playing nearly every day in his first full season at Triple-A. There hasn’t been a prolonged slump; the last time he finished a day with an average below .263 was after the second game of the season.

He helped Norfolk cruise to a first-half title by 8 ½ games in the International League’s East Division, and he sits as MLB Pipeline’s No. 69 overall prospect (and the No. 6 player in the Orioles’ minor league system).


And yet there’s little doubt to Norby that he’s trying to find himself at the plate this year.

“It’s been challenging,” Norby said Sunday before Norfolk’s 15-3 rout of Charlotte. “That’s the first word I’ll use. It’s opened my eyes a lot. This game will beat you down mentally if you’re not prepared and if you don’t come in every day ready to work and ready to try to get better. I’ve had good weeks. I’ve had bad weeks. I’ve been in between. I still don’t feel like myself.”

He figures that might cut both ways. Norby said he’s constantly tweaked his swing looking for answers, and there’s some frustration since it’s now July. Yet he’s also still producing and helping the Tides win a lot of games, so his search for a way to get better hasn’t impacted the standings.

The East Carolina product has had stretches when he didn’t feel like he was progressing the way he wanted. His freshman year of college was the first time he consistently failed. He struggled initially at Single-A Delmarva in 2021 but finished with a .283 average with three homers and 17 RBIs in 26 games.

He had a much more pronounced slow start last year at High-A Aberdeen, but the difference was he was hitting balls hard but didn’t have much to show for it. When that changed, he lost some of his discipline. Then came a promotion to Double-A Bowie, where he shrugged off a quiet week or two to hit .298 and slugged .571 with 17 homers in 64 games.

Each of the previous stretches eventually ended, and Norby has repeatedly told himself and others he simply needs to keep plugging away. Norfolk’s success has also taken some of the pressure off as he figures things out.

“When you have Lewin Díaz and Hudson Haskin hitting in your seven and eight holes most nights, you know you have a pretty stacked team,” Norby said. “That’s what a lot of teams say to us. When I talk to guys that get to second base, they’re like, ‘You guys are really good,’ and I say, ‘Yeah, I know. It’s a lot of fun.’ It just shows the depth of this organization.”

One facet of the game he is pleased with is defense. While he still primarily plays second base, he’s made 15 appearances in the outfield (11 in left, four in right) a season after playing the outfield 11 times for the full year.

In addition to providing the Tides with a little more positional flexibility, it could also make him a more valuable piece when he reaches the majors.

“It was something that I was pushing across the table to try to learn a little bit just because I saw Terrin [Vavra] do it,” Norby said. “For me it’s a way to create some versatility. It’s also a way for me to stay in the lineup somewhere. I actually look at it as a way to get off my feet a little bit for the night, get off the dirt, and go play in the grass a little bit. I’ve enjoyed it this year. I’ve worked at it and I’ve gotten a lot better at it. I’m playing out there at least once or twice a week, which I enjoy.”

The last few weeks have also offered the chance for Norby to talk with Orioles Ryan Mountcastle and Cedric Mullins while both were on rehabilitation assignments with Norfolk. He already had gotten to know both in spring training — his locker was next to Mountcastle’s in Sarasota — and he took a lot from an extended conversation with Mullins the day of a rainout in Nashville last month.

More than anything, he knows working through a variety of swing tweaks is part of the game. But it doesn’t make it easier to not quite feel right after playing in 75 games this season.

“Nothing seems to click yet,” Norby said. “I watch video every day. I was watching video last night. We’ll see what happens today talking to hitting coaches. Last year, I didn’t figure it out until seven or eight weeks were left in the season, maybe. I was in a way worse spot at this point last year than I am now. I’m just trying to get my confidence back now.”

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