Daniel Norris, Kendall Graveman finish first, second in MiLBY fan vote


The pitching depth in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system took a big step forward in 2014, and none bigger than the steps taken by the pair of Daniel Norris and Kendall Graveman. On Tuesday, the pair were recognized for their tremendous 2014 seasons by placing first and second in the 2014 MiLBY Awards fan votiing as the Minor League’s top starting pitcher.

Daniel Norris found a way to place first in the fan voting, beating out teammate Kendall Graveman, and a prospect-laden field that also included Lucas Giolito, Tyler Glasnow, Henry Owens, and Jimmy Nelson. Glasnow was named the top starting pitcher in the staff selection part of the process.

The 21-year-old Norris enjoyed a season for the ages and vaulted himself to the top of the Blue Jays prospect rankings by dominating across three minor league levels, posting a 12-2 record with a 2.53 ERA, a 11.8 K/9 ratio, and a 1.115 WHIP. His 163 strike-outs were third in all of minor league baseball and his K/9 rate led all minor league starters.

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That performance vaulted Norris from High-A Dunedin, to Double-A New Hampshire, to Triple-A Buffalo, and finally to Toronto. He made a most memorable debut on September 5th, when he was called in from the bullpen to face David Ortiz, and promptly froze the legendary Boston Red Sox slugger with a inside curveball.

Likewise, Kendall Graveman also made a meteoric rise through the Blue Jays Minor League system, but had to start his journey a step further down the ladder than did Norris. Graveman started his trip in Low-A Lansing, and made his bones in a much different fashion from Norris’ strike-out methods. However, he was nonetheless dominant, going 14-6 with a 1.83 ERA, a 6.2 K/9 ratio, and a 1.034 WHIP. His 1.95 GB/AO ratio helped Graveman dominate hitters, holding them to a .231 batting average against and only 2 home runs allowed over 167.1 minor league innings.

Like Norris, Kendall Graveman also found himself in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform, and while the Blue Jays were careful with his innings in Toronto (4.2), he left a decent impression, allowing 2 earned runs and striking out 4 in the process.

Both Daniel Norris and Kendall Graveman have now inserted themselves as big parts of the Blue Jays future, and their recognition in the MiLBY awards is a tremendous justification of that future. Both will likely begin the year back in Buffalo, but the knowledge that we have high-caliber prospects ready to jump into the rotation at a moments notice will make things a lot easier going forward, not to mention exciting.