After two Blue Jays cracked both the Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus Top 50 prospect lists last week, Keith Law has toned down the excitement a bit. Only lefty Daniel Norris made his list which was released this morning, with both Dalton Pompey and Aaron Sanchez being left off the Top 50. On the bright side, Norris was not even on Law's preseason list so his massive step forward this season has not gone unnoticed by the ESPN writer. With the #37 ranking, the 21-year-old beat out fellow pitchers Jameson Taillon, Alex Meyer and Andrew Heaney, which is especially shocking considering how little buzz there was about Norris entering the season.
After reading this Sportsnet piece, it's hard to think could anyone dislike the laid back lefty from the South. In his four starts at AA New Hampshire, Norris has an ERA of 4.24 and K/9 of 13.2 although there's still some command issues which can be seen in his 4.2 BB/9. Here's some of what Keith Law had to say:
Norris has passed Aaron Sanchez as the Jays' top pitching prospect, thanks to some substantial delivery cleanup that has him more on line to the plate and better able to repeat his still-long arm action. He'll show three above-average pitches...and a potential major-league out pitch in his slider. He's a long way from having average command...
As most people know, Norris appeared in the Futures Game in Minnesota over the All-Star break and continued to impress. Pitching for Team USA in the second inning, Norris got two groundouts and a strikeout throwing 7 of his 11 pitches for strikes. The pitch breakdown was four fastballs in the mid-90's and seven sliders that gave the World Futures players all sorts of trouble.
Norris' next start with the Fisher Cats will come on Saturday as New Hampshire takes on the Portland Sea Dogs. The opposing pitcher will actually be fellow lefty and Boston Red Sox prospect Henry Owens who pitched the first inning of the Futures Game for Team USA before handing the ball over to Norris. Owens was ranked #23 in Keith Law's list, so it'll quite the pitching match-up over in New Hampshire.