This message will continue to be posted on each of the top 12 draft targets I will be listing daily until draft day: the players listed are not “the best” players in the draft, they are simply those that I believe could be around when the Jays draft, and that could wind up being selected by the Blue Birds when their turns come up. The list has 12 of the top targets and will be presented in reverse order (from least likely, to most likely). A prep arm is next with…
#1: Daniel Norris (18)
LH Pitcher / 6’2″ 180 lbs / Tennessee
Birth Date: April 25th 1993
High School Team: Science Hill
College: NA. Committed to Clemson if he doesn’t sign.
- Won the 2010 Jackie Robinson Award.
- Works with special needs students at school.
- MLB Insider has some pretty lofty “potential” grades for Norris available here.
- There’s a Q&A with him available here.
- Is friends with Josh Hamilton and mentions Clayton Kershaw as a pitcher he looks up to.
- Mentions that his college vs pro option is pretty much 50/50 at this point.
- Notes from his MLB Draft profile are available here.
- 2008 All-Northeast Tennessee First Team.
- 2009 All-Northeast Tennessee Player of the Year, All-Northeast Tennessee Player of the Year, Baseball America High School Pitcher of the Year, AFLAC All-American, AFLAC National High School Baseball Player of the Year.
- 2011 Louisville Slugger Pre-season All-American.
- Baseball Beginnings Q&A available here.
- 2010: 8-0, 64 IP, 1.96 ERA, 140 Ks (also batter .483 with 7 HRs)
- 2011: 8-1, 1.80 ERA, 62 IP (11 GS), 31 hits, 29 BB, 113 Ks
Pre-Draft Rankings (out of all pitchers in brackets):
- BA Ranking May 25th: #16 (11)
- John Sickels May 20th: #19 (13)
If you want to know a little about Daniel personally, here is his response to what Kevin Levine-Flandrup asked him in the Q&A linked above and here:
“Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When was the first time you realized you could do something with baseball?
Daniel Norris: You know, the best way I could answer that question for you is this: I figured out I could do something with it when I was growing up. At a very early age I was always outside hitting balls, throwing up ice cubes and hitting them, stuff like that. Mom would call me in for dinner and I’d refuse to go – I just have had this undying passion for baseball from an early age. My parents tell me stories of me being outside all day, diving for balls, throwing them off the wall, and when I think back and remember those things I think that’s what really kick-started me. The passion I have to play the game has continued to grow every year since.”
And that’s where the pursuit of getting his talents closest to perfection as they can get begins. When I first watched video of Daniel pitching, I couldn’t believe he was a HS pitcher. His delivery is silky smooth and everything just seems perfectly synchronized. Sure, he’s not the biggest of pitchers at 6’2″ 180 lbs, but his arm is very strong and that, combined with a smooth delivery, gets him hitting the 96 MPH mark when he needs it without any kind of jerky action.
From the man himself, again in the Q&A linked above, he states that he works a 4-seam fastball between 91-95 MPH, “touching 96-97 MPH”, and adds that he uses a:
“modified circle changeup that gets a lot of arm-side run and downward movement, and it comes in anywhere from 80-85 MPH. It’s come a long way for me and I’ve worked really hard on developing it because I know that no matter where I end up going it’s going to be a very important pitch for my future.”
So he recognizes the need for a great change up…what else does he have?
Again, from Daniel himself, he adds that he uses a 12-6 curve that hits the high 70s and sometimes gets into the low 80s. He mentions working on a rudimentary slider, but definitely points to his curve as being his out pitch if he doesn’t do it with a heater.
Throughout interviews I’ve watched with him included and his Q&As, he answers each question with words like “Yes Sir” and shows respect for the game, a passion for the game, and maturity beyond his years. In short, this young man has some of the best makeup of any HS available player in this class. And scouts point to that as one of his strengths, so you know it’s noticed by all MLB teams as they make their rounds.
Now, he’s far from perfect. Scouts mentioned that his mechanics needed some work, something he improved on this spring. Just because his delivery is smooth, it doesn’t mean that he repeats it perfectly. Those, along with a low-graded slider, are things he’ll have to work on to become more effective at the higher levels of the minors. But, having said that, his current stuff is well above-and-beyond the vast majority of prep arms.
Baseball America rated his stuff as the 2nd best in terms of command coming out of the draft. That’s his bread and butter, and he realizes that this along with a great fastball-change combination can take him a very long way. Because of that, I believe that he will go before the Jays pick. But, as I made my pre-draft list of the top 20 picks, I do realize that there’s a slight chance he’ll slip to the Jays. If that were to happen, I would be ecstatic and would expect the Jays to be all over him.
With Basbeall Prospectus reporting that Daniel’s asking price could be as high as $4 million, Toronto could be one of his landing spots as they are sure to be very aggressive in the draft as it could scare some other teams away. Again, I do expect him to be grabbed in the 10-19 range, but if he slips, I’ll be the loudest in his cheering section!!
Expected Selection (if selected by the Jays): In the First Round, 21st overall.
I would love for the Jays to grab Norris in as their top pick. His already advanced command and poise would allow him to move fairly quickly through the system, and he has a true shot as making good on his talent to develop into a viable #2 starter.
We’ll soon find out if I’m right!! The draft is coming right up in a few hours, so stay here and join us in the chat for as little or long as you can!
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