Every season, the staff of Baseball America compiles a virtual All-Star team comprised of the top minor league players at each position. A so-called minor league “Dream Team” if you would. With the release of the 2014 edition on Wednesday, it was no surprise that the a pair of pitchers from the Toronto Blue Jays organization made the cut.
One of the two named was no surprise, as left-hander Daniel Norris absolutely dominated minor league hitters at three different levels in 2014. The 21-year-old led all of minor league baseball with a 11.8 K/9 ratio while going 12-2 across 26 appearances (25 starts). That K/9 ratio increased at each stop on the circuit, starting at 10.3 at Single-A Dunedin, rising to 12.4 in a brief stop at Double-A New Hampshire, and then topping out at a whopping 15.1 (!) at Triple-A Buffalo.
Norris was the first of the Blue Jays’ September call-ups, meaning the next stop on the strike-out tour is in Toronto. Already at a career-high 124.2 innings prior to his call-up, Norris will be used sparingly out of the Blue Jays bullpen in order to get his feet wet for next season.
Also making the list was the surprise pitcher of the summer in the Jays organization, sinker-baller Kendall Graveman. At 23-years-old, Graveman used his college polish earned at Mississippi State University to propel himself through four different levels of the Blue Jays system in 2014.
In 167.1 innings of work on the year, Graveman hammered batters into the ground, putting up a very healthy 1.95 ground-out to air-out ratio, a 6.2 K/9 versus 1.7 BB/9, a 1.83 ERA, and only 2 home runs allowed all season. Like Norris, Graveman also received the call-up to Toronto in September and will work out of the Blue Jays bullpen for the final month of the season. It was an apt reward for a season where big strides were made.
For those that missed them, we had the opportunity to speak with both Daniel Norris and Kendall Graveman earlier this season about their pitching styles, minor league experiences, and more.