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Norris Hopper

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Norris Stephen Hopper

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Norris Hopper was picked by the Kansas City Royals in the 8th round of the 1998 amateur draft and signed by scout Balos Davis. He began his career that year with the GCL Royals and hit .308/~.370/.338. The next year, Hopper batted .257/~.338/.296 for the same club and stole 22 in 28 tries. Hopper also appeared briefly with the 1999 Charleston Alley Cats. He would spend 2000 with Charleston, hitting .280/.357/.350, scoring 70 runs and swiping 24 in 34 tries. In '01, he produced at a .247/.312/.280 rate for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, stealing 16 out of 20. He had been converted gradually from the middle infield to the outfield, where his bat was less appropriate.

In 2002, Norris scored 78 runs for Wilmington, hitting .272/.323/.313 and stealing 22 of 31. At age 24, he hit .300/.346/.342 for the 2003 Wichita Wranglers and stole 24 in 34 tries; he also led the Texas League with 16 sacrifice bunts.

2004 marked Hopper's 4th straight run of two years with the same club. He hit .278/.309/.345 with 17 SB in 24 tries for Wichita. In 2005, Norris signed with the Cincinnati Reds chain and hit .310/.354/.368 with the Chattanooga Lookouts; he scored 70 and stole 25 in 32 tries. In his third year at AA, he was fourth in the Southern League in batting average. In '06, he hit .283/.365/.370 for the Lookouts before being promoted to the Louisville Bats in May. At age 27, he made a rather late debut at AAA, but hit well, going .349/.379/.395 for the Bats with 27 steals in 31 attempts on the year, before getting called up the majors with the Reds in late August. His .340 average ranked sixth in the US-based minors that season. He was named to the International League All-Star team (joining Darnell McDonald and Jason Dubois in the outfield) and would have led the IL in average had he qualified.

Norris hit .294 for the Navojoa Mayos in the 2006-2007 Mexican Pacific League campaign but was let go by manager Mario Mendoza due to disciplinary problems.

Main sources: 1999-2007 Baseball Almanacs

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