The Blue Jays organization had several minor league promotions this weekend. No, not like Beer, Bacon, and Fireworks Night or Star Wars Night or Hump Day or Jayson Werth Bobblebeard giveaway day, but promotions up the organizational ladder. Last week's headline promotion in the Blue Jays' system was Aaron Sanchez from double-A New Hampshire to triple-A Buffalo, this week's headline promotion fills the propsect void Sanchez left in New Hampshire, with lefty Daniel Norris getting the call up from Dunedin along with Derrick Chung. The news of the transaction came from Sportsnet's Shi Davidi and has not been made official yet (as of time of writing), but Norris has confirmed the promotion on his Twitter account.
Norris and Chung just helped the Dunedin Blue Jays win the Florida State League North first-half division championship with a spiffy 46-20 (.697) record and were in Bradenton for the FSL All-Star game when the promotions were announced.
Norris, number 3 on Bluebird Banter's Top 40 Prospects list, enjoyed his half-season in the FSL, recording a 1.22 ERA (and matching 1.78 FIP) over 13 starts, in which he averaged just over five innings a start. His strikeout rate increased to 29% while his walk rate was reduced to 7%--all good signs for a pitcher. Norris managed the transition from the class-A Midwest League to the FSL pretty well, but the advanced-A to double-A jump is supposedly to be particularly difficult. The Fisher Cats were running on four starters since Sanchez's promotion, so there is an opening on Wednesday for Daniel Norris to make his debut.
Chung, 26, has always been old for his league ever since being drafted in the 31st round from Cal State. He was drafted as a shortstop and he played a utility role in Vancouver after the draft, but was converted to catcher in spring training 2013 and sent to Dunedin, skipping Lansing.
"I wasn’t sure what the plan was for me at the end of [2012, but] I was pretty happy that the Blue Jays gave me a shot as a catcher," Chung told Bluebird Banter in an interview this offseason, "I did both catching and infield last two years at Sac State, but I had more of an infielder’s mentality. This past year was the first time I actually felt committed to being a catcher."
Last year, Chung was off to a great start with his bat in the FSL, batting .330/.385/.352 in April and May, but caught a bad break when he was run over at the plate by Mets prospect Rylan Sandoval during Josh Johnson's rehab start with the D-Jays on May 20. While getting run over by Rylan was probably better than getting run over by Pablo, Chung did get knocked unconscious on the play and injured his left thumb on the collision. He returned to the lineup in mid-June but his numbers at the plate suffered in June and July.
"I had a hard time holding onto the bat for a while," Chung recalled, "my rhythm was a little off as well."
His numbers bounced back in August, and he had an eye-opening stint at the Arizona Fall League where hit .390/.447/.439. He was invited to big league spring training--and Montreal--this season and followed it up with a solid .320/.395/.390 slash line. He has even flashed some power this season (.118 ISO)--hitting his first two pro home runs and surpassing last year's doubles in just a half-season. All the while calling good games and playing solid defensive behind the plate. He was named FSL Player of the Month for May.
With the D-Jays losing their primary catcher, Santiago Nessy was promoted from the Lansing Lugnuts. He will likely split time with Canadian Michael Reeves in Dunedin. To complete the chain, Daniel Klein, who had just started his season with one game in Vancouver, was transferred to Lansing.
Next in line for a promotion from Dunedin to New Hampshire would probably be right hander Taylor Cole. The 24-year-old was given the honour of starting the FSL All-Star Game after a solid first-half where he recorded a 2.19 ERA and 1.000 WHIP in 13 games (12 starts), striking out 95 and walking just 16.