We here at Clutchlings feel pretty protective about the prospects we cover. Daniel Norris is among them.
Norris appeared on Baseball America's weekly Prospect Hot Sheet earlier this season - and not in a good way. In the "not so hot" section, BA asked how someone with Norris' stuff gets lit up so often.
A valid question, given his less than awesome performance over the first year and a bit of pro ball.
In 2012, Norris sported a record of 2-4 8.44 at two short season levels. Over his first 4 starts this season with Low A Lansing (on limited pitch counts), Norris was 0-1, with an ERA of 12. An inability to get ahead in the count in some innings led largely to the inflated ERA.
Over his past 6 starts, however (if you discount a disastrous outing against Dayton), Norris has been lights out: 0-1, with a 1.44 ERA in 25 innings, in which he's given up 21 hits, 15 walks, and has struck out 31.
His most recent start was easily the best of his young career. Against Great Lakes, Norris struck out 10 over 4 innings, allowing no runs, and giving up 3 hits and 2 walks. Norris told milb.com that a relaxed mindset, with the help of pitching coach Vince Horsman, has been a key part of the turnaround:.
"Vince and I had a talk and he basically said, 'Enough is enough. Your stuff is too good to be giving up the hits and runs you're giving up, you've gotta trust your stuff.' And it hit home. I was sick of the results I was getting. He said, 'Don't think about your mechanics, just go out and throw and have fun.' I've done that and it's actually helped make my mechanics better."
As a result, Norris reached #6 on this week's edition of BA's Hot Sheet. Norris was chosen by the Jays in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft. Earlier this season, we compared Norris with righthander Tyler Beede, the Jays first round choice that year, who spurned the Jays offer in favour of Vanderbilt. And while Beede has likely claimed a top 10 spot in the 2014 draft, Norris has begun to close the gap between the two.
With teammate Roberto Osuna possibly facing Tommy John surgery, and Dunedin's Aaron Sanchez on the 7-day DL with what is believed to be dead arm symptoms, Norris at least temporarily takes over the mantle of the Jays' top pitching prospect.