Introducing Daniel Norris, Pick #74 in the 2011 Draft
By Mat Germain
Since the signing deadline has passed and it’s now time to take a more in-depth account of exactly what it is the Jays brought into the organization, I will be researching and evaluating each SIGNED pick from the 2011 class for the Jays. It’s a lengthy process, and some of them may take a little longer to bring together due to lack of information, but hopefully we’ll have it all done well before we bring out our “End of 2011 Top 50 Jays Prospects, JJ edition.” Each time a new article is completed, you’ll have access to it on JJ, through Tweet, and can access the entire 2011 class and our write ups on them here.
Below is everything I could gather about the Jays 2nd rd 74th overall pick, Daniel Norris.
Introducing Pick #74: Daniel Norris
Left-Handed Pitcher / 6’3″ 190 lbs / Tennessee
Birth Date: April 25th, 1993 (18 years old)
High School Team: Science Hill High School
College: NA. Had committed to Clemson before signing with Jays.
Signed for: $2,000,000
- Played football after his Junior year to focus on baseball.
- First hit 90 MPH when he was 14-years old.
- 2008 All-Northeast Tennessee 1st team
- 2009 All-Northeast Player of the Year
- 2010 All-Northeast Player of the Year
- 2010 Baseball America High School Pitcher of the Year
- 2010 AFLAC All-American
- 2010 AFLAC National High School Baseball Player of the Year
- Won the 2010 Jackie Robinson Award, given to the best High School player NATIONALLY, beating out Dylan Bundy and Blake Swihart amongst others. Bryce Harper won the award in 2009 and Justin Upton won it in 2004, just to point out its pedigree.
- Made the 2011 1st Team All-American MaxPreps team, along with Bundy, Archie Bradley, and Henry Owens to name a few.
- Was also an AFLAC All-American in 2011.
- Doesn’t mind playing the field and hitting either, as he has experience playing in CF.
- Chipper Jones is his favourite player, and the Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers were his favourite teams growing up. I’m guessing the Jays now top that list!
- His dad owns a bike shop in Tennessee and Daniel is a big mountain biking enthusiast.
- Is friends with Pirates top draft pick from the 2010 class, Jameson Taillon. Both pride themselves on not showing emotions on the mound.
- He likens himself a bit to Clayton Kershaw, and has also chatted and texted a lot with Josh Hamilton as they both share a bond that comes from their very strong sense of faith.
- Kris Benson actually showed him the Pedro Martinez change up grip.
- 2010: 8-0, 1.96 ERA, 64 IP, 140 Ks
- 2011: 8-1, 1.80 ERA, 11 GP, 62 IP, 31 hits, 29 BB, 113 Ks
- A Q&A with Baseball Prospect Report (BPR) here.
- A Q&A with Kevin Levine-Flandrup here.
- A video from BPR can be viewed here.
- A Q&A with talkingwithprospects.com here.
- A Q&A with MacksMets.com here.
- An interview with BA’s Connor Glassey is available here.
AFLAC Skills (below)
A Baseball America Video (below)
- BA: #16 (Beede was ranked 35th)
I stated before the draft that I believed Daniel Norris was the top draft target of the Toronto Blue Jays, and although they didn’t select him in the 1st rd, or the sandwich rd, they didn’t disappoint me by selecting him in the 2nd rd of the draft. He was the one player I knew they could land in the draft based on draft position that could provide them with the highest of ceilinged potential in this draft. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that he has signed with the Jays, and that I’m certain all Jays fans will appreciate what he has to offer as they get to know him on and off the mound.
The best prep left-hander in the 2011 draft, Daniel Norris will make Jays brass look great as he climbs the ranks towards The Show. Make no mistake, he is the crown jewell of this draft for the Jays and one of the big reasons a lot of us can tolerate the fact that the Jays didn’t sign Tyler Beede. In reality, the Jays should have drafted Norris 21st overall, and Beede in the sandwich or 2nd rd if we based the draft on abilities. His abilities and character, both on and off the field, are unquestionably impressive and leave you with a sense of not “whether” he will make it to The Show, but rather “when” he’ll get there.
Here’s a thorough look at his routine, stuff, and his potential.
As Baseball America’s Nathan Rode noted in an April 30th article, Norris likes to warm up by doing the following:
"“Before the game and his bullpen session, Norris was long tossing from pole to pole, airing his throws out over the heads of the Farragut players as they took infield/outfield. In his bullpen warm-up, Norris does a typical routine, but also simulates facing batters.”"
To which Norris added:
"“After I go through a series of pitches and work on some other stuff I’ll go in and face a lefty and righty, just to focus getting in and getting out,” he said. “Long toss is something I started this year. Usually I go to center field and back to the line, but I’ve been trying to go pole to pole lately. It gets my arm loose and feels good.”"
After going through this process, Norris was able to work between 86-96 MPH with his fastball during the game, but was noted as working mostly between 93-95 MPH – well above the MLB average. His arsenal also includes a slider (76-79 MPH), curveball (71-74 MPH with “1-to-7 break“), and a “newly advanced grip” or what he calls a “modified circle change up” (80-85 MPH). Although he uses his curveball more than another other off speed pitches, you can see why Norris is so effective just based on the different pitches he can throw and how well they work off of his dominant fastball. Even if you sit on the fastball, he locates it so well and has natural movement on it that makes it very hard to square up. If you try to hit one of his off speed pitches, all of which are in the 71-85 MPH range, you have to identify which one it is first and hope you guess right or else you’ll look foolish swinging at this air.
As you can expect from what I just listed, he has a better fastball and curve than any other pitch. Both of these are graded by most as being above-average pitches. His change up ranks as an out pitch or a get ahead in the count pitch. There are some who believe that his change up is actually his second best pitch after his fastball and that his curve ball is his weakest, but I guess that’s part of the endless arguments of the scouting world – not everyone sees it the same way. There is, however, no argument that he has one of the best fastballs of all prep pitchers. His slider still needs some work to get up-to-par, but it is his most recently added pitch which he states he’s falling in love with.
The best part of the stuff Norris throws is that it comes easily out of his hand in one smooth effortless looking delivery.
On signing with a major league team and becoming a major league player some day, Norris stated the following:
"“It’s every kid’s dream, and it’s always been mine to be a Major League Baseball player, have a long career, and go to the Hall of Fame, and that’s just where I have my sights set. My mentality is to do everything I can, no matter what, to achieve that goal – I mean, it’s really all I’ve ever known. I always tell the story that when we were in 8th or 9th grade they have these career days at school when people come and talk to you. Whenever they’d come up to me they would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I’d say “I want to be a Major League Baseball player.” They would tell me “do you know the chances of that, son?” My thoughts were always, well, yeah, I do know the chances, but that’s what I’ve got my sights set on and I’m not going to back down just because you tell me there’s a one-in-a-million chance. That dream has always been what’s important to me, and it’s what I’ve always wanted.”"
When you read about someone who has this kind of focus, confidence, and faith in his abilities and his overall direction as a baseball player, you get a sense that Daniel Norris is on the path to do great things. Not only is this the sense I get, but I also get the feeling that he’s the kind of person who will make every single one of his team mates better by helping them as much as he can every step of the way. Since he has become a Jays pick, all he has done is to continue to be a positive force within that group and to Tweet about how much fun he and the other guys are having hanging out, going for meals, or watching movies. He seems to be to be the type of individual who brings everyone together and helps build up their team spirit in the same way Ricky Romero has done with the Jays. What a great addition to the Jays system!
Overall, he has top-shelf stuff from the left side of the mound and a very advanced arsenal of pitches to work with for him age. His faith provides him with unshakeable confidence and the spirit to focus on the job at hand, and his makeup as a person is off-the-charts. A positive influence for all of those around him, Daniel Norris should become the undoubted crown jewell of the 2011 draft for the Toronto Blue Jays, and is someone I will follow very closely as he advances towards The Show.
It may take him a few years to get to the higher levels of the minors, but if scouts are correct in their assessments of his stuff and makeup, he has the floor of a #3 pitcher with a real chance to be a #1 pitcher if he puts everything together at some point in the future.
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