Randy Norris isn’t about to be intimidated by his surroundings as he began his stint in high single A ball with the San Jose Giants.
Norris, 21, and a former star at Winston-Salem State, settled into his second year of professional baseball and was up to the task. While he’s played in only two games for San Jose, he’s made it look somewhat easy.
In his first at-bat for San Jose on Thursday, he hit an RBI single. Then on Friday night, his RBI single in the 10th inning allowed the game-winning run to score.
“That was my first walk-off ever,” Norris said by phone Sunday from California. “It was pretty cool.”
Norris hit a 1-1 pitch off Hansel Rodriquez that scored Logan Baldwin. Norris was mobbed by teammates after the hit.
“It was the biggest crowd I had ever played in front of so, it was that much sweeter,” Norris said.
Norris, who is from High Point, is showing off his talent as part of the San Francisco Giants organization. He was drafted last summer in the 19th round, then spent his first season in rookie ball hitting .262 with 17 RBIs in 42 games for the Arizona Giants. He also had 10 stolen bases to lead the team.
After spring training, he stayed in Arizona waiting to be assigned.
“I didn’t care where they sent me because all I wanted to do was help whichever team I was playing for get some wins,” said Norris, who is 2 for 7 in his two games for a .286 average.
On Sunday, the San Jose Giants had a doubleheader rained out with Lake Elsinore.
Norris said he’s played in only two games with his new team but likes how everything has gone so far. He’s the second-youngest outfielder on the roster with 20-year-old Helio Ramos the youngest.
Norris says there are some familiar faces on the roster such as pitcher Matt Frisbee, a former star at UNC Greensboro, and fellow outfielder Courtney Hawkins, a former Winston-Salem Dash player.
It was a stunner for Norris that he was assigned to San Jose.
“I was getting ready for a game (in extended spring training), and I stepped away from my locker and then they told me I was moving up,” Norris said. “Then the next thing I know I’m on a plane to San Jose, so it was rather quick that all of this happened.”
To say the WSSU baseball program was excited is an understatement. The program, which ended a nine-year run after the school cut the program for financial reasons, is keeping up with Norris’ progress on Twitter.
Assistant Coach Enad Haddad of the Rams is staying up late to watch Norris’ games online.
“Coach Haddad doesn’t miss anything, so that’s great to see,” Norris said. “And I’ve heard from Coach (Kevin) Ritsche a lot. That program made me a success for the three years I played there.”
Ritsche pointed out that pitcher Jordan Cummings, another former WSSU player, is also playing minor-league baseball.
“The program is pretty tight knit and it always has been,” Ritsche said. “We are proud and excited for Randy.”
Norris is prepared for whatever happens as his season unfolds. He realizes that in minor-league baseball, especially at the single-A level, rosters are constantly shuffled. Norris was moved to the San Jose roster with catcher Chris Corbett being placed on the injured list.
“I know this is an opportunity for me and I want to take advantage,” Norris said. “But I also have to realize it’s still just baseball, and I’ll learn as much as I can and keep grinding. My expectations are to keep going and keep playing hard. I’ve always done that when it comes to baseball.”