Dunedin Blue Jays' lefthander Daniel Norris has shown no rust early this season in Florida State League action. The 2nd round pick from the 2011 draft, who is ranked the club's 3rd best prospect by both ourselves and MLB.com, spent most of last year with Lansing in the Low A Midwestern League, and was promoted to High A Dunedin in late August.
After a disastrous pro debut in rookie ball in 2012, Norris got off to a slow start in full season ball last season, causing some publications like Baseball America to wonder how a prospect with such electric stuff could be hit so often and so hard.
Norris turned things around in early May, and after sporting a 9.56 ERA through April, he posted a 3.97 ERA the rest of the way, striking out 100 batters in 85 innings. He made one late regular season start for the D-Jays, giving up just one hit and two walks in 5 innings.
And Norris has picked up where he left off last August, winning both of his starts so far, even though he admittedly didn't have his best stuff in his last start. "My fastball really wasn't where I wanted it to be," he told milb.com's Kelsie Heneghan after throwing six scoreless innings against Brevard County on Saturday. "It was not where it needed to be, command-wise, so it was nice to have three other pitches to rely on."
Norris allowed the leadoff batter to reach in four of his six innings, but battled and made the necessary adjustments to get out of jams. Norris has already matched his win total (two) from his 23 starts last year. striking out six and walking only one yesterday. He has allowed only one earned run in 11 FSL innings pitched so far, striking out 11 and walking the one batter.
We have written about Norris before - he's an interesting follow on Twitter. Definitely not the stereoptypical myopic athlete, he has a laid-back outlook on life, backed by a strong faith. In the off season, Norris likes to find big waves to surf, and John Lott wrote a great article about Norris living his dream in a Westfalia van this spring.
It's still early in the minor league season, and this is still the smallest of sample sizes, but if Norris continues to dominate FSL hitters, a promotion to AA could be in the offing for the pitcher some called the best prep lefthander in the 2011 draft.