Will Daniel Norris Join Marcus Stroman To Anchor The Blue Jays Rotation?
On a recent trip to the Rochester, New York area for “life stuff”, a jaunt to Buffalo was in order to scout top-100 prospect Daniel Norris. On the cusp of a MLB call up to Toronto, the left-handed pitcher made his third Triple-A start against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and Rob Refsnyder (First Impression Report). Now a member of the Blue Jays big club, is he up to stay, or will the former second round pick require more minor league seasoning in 2015?
Listed at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Norris is well-proportioned and presents as closer to 200. An impressive athlete, Daniel Norris is able to generate power in his delivery to present with plus velocity from the left side. A long stride and aggressive drive to the plate allow the fastball to play up. However, Norris dragging his back leg through the pitch may negate velocity.
For now, command is an issue as Norris struggles to repeat his delivery. However, he has the athletic ability and know-how to make adjustments throughout the game, if not the at bat. As he settles into a Major League roll, experience and maturity will help iron out any remaining command issues. Daniel Norris presents with too much effort in his delivery for pinpoint command, but it projects at MLB average or better on a day when a scout sitting in the next row commented, “I’ve seen Norris pitch before and be much sharper than this. All four pitches have been better in other looks.”
At 90-92 mph, touching 94, Norris attacks all four quadrants of the plate. on numerous occasions, he followed up off-speed pitches out with four-seam fastballs on the hands, freezing opposing hitters. He was also successful at keeping the pitch down, but had little difficulty changing eye levels when the opportunity presented itself. With so much extension in his delivery, fastballs up had a rising quality and induced swings-and-misses. On a couple of occasions, he flashed an 88-mph two-seamer or cutter.
Daniel Norris’ best off-speed pitch was an 83 mph fastball he used as an out pitch. A three-to-seven offering with hard, cutting action, hitters, especially lefties, struggled to barrel the pitch. Norris also commanded it reasonably well and turned to the pitch in key situations.
His least refined pitch was a 72-74 mph curveball which presented as a third, distinct velocity range given the slider and change-up were thrown at similar speeds. Daniel Norris used the “show me” offering as a change-of-pace to right-handed hitters. At its best, it flashed depth, but lacked bite. He also wasted the curveball on multiple occasions. In his most impressive sequence of the game, Norris threw back-to-back change-ups to work ahead 0-2. Then, he wasted a curveball up-and-away to change eye levels. The fourth pitch was a fastball on the hands, resulting in a strikeout looking.
Daniel Norris throws a change-up to complete the arsenal. Early in the outing, the 85-88 mph pitch was firm out of the hand and found too much of the plate. Later on, it was consistently thrown at 82-83 mph with late drop. The pitch has promise, although more consistency is needed.
Overall, the Blue Jays left-hander is still a work in progress and should be given he’s just 21. But unlike many lefties with command/control profiles and little projection, Daniel Norris presents as a hybrid power pitcher who’s just scratching the surface. Expect him to develop into a number two, although it may not happen until 2017.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Number 2 Starter On First Division Team Fastball 55 65 Curveball 40 50 Slider 50 60 Change-up 45 55 Control 55 65 Command 45 55
Owning Daniel Norris
For fantasy baseball owners, Norris presents a dilemma. At 21, he’s surged up top-1oo prospect lists and is one of the best left-handers scouted in six seasons. Plus, his 2.53 ERA and 163/43 K/BB ratio pass the statistical sniff test. In dynasty leagues with contracts, or progressively rising prices, he’ll spend the cheap years learning how to be successful at the MLB level, offering a so-so return on investment until things “click”. When they do, Norris will cost too much for the surge in performance to deliver great value either — especially when arms are worth less than bats in the majority of fantasy baseball formats. By circumstance, Daniel Norris makes for a great off-season trade candidate because his actual value to a fantasy team will never be higher.
2 Sep 2014 / Mike Newman /
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