- Full name Daniel David Norris
- Born 04/25/1993 in Johnson City, TN
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 207 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Science Hill
- Debut 09/05/2014
Drafted in the 2nd round (74th overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 (signed for $2,000,000).
View Draft ReportNorris entered 2011 as the top high school lefthander in the country, and he has done nothing to change that assessment. He spent last summer dealing for the East Cobb Yankees and then gave up football, where he played quarterback, to focus on baseball as a senior. Norris has shown three potential plus pitches, with a fastball that reaches 96 mph but generally rests in the 89-93 mph range, a curveball and changeup. He throws the changeup with good arm speed and has plenty of hand speed to spin a breaking ball, and he has also toyed with a slider. Norris features a clean arm and plenty of athleticism, though like many high school pitchers he has inconsistent mechanics, tipping when he's throwing a fastball or breaking ball. He has the athleticism to make adjustments quickly, and he had already improved his arm action in recent months, making it more compact. Scouts laud his makeup and passion for the game. A Clemson recruit, Norris has strong present stuff and room to improve.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Blue Jays had seven of the top 78 picks in the 2011 draft. Norris fell to the 74th overall pick with high bonus demands, which the Jays met with a $2 million bonus, the largest of their class (they failed to sign firstrounder Tyler Beede that year). Norris entered 2014 with a 4-11, 5.40 career mark and notoriety for his surfing and 1978 Volkswagen van. He turned a corner with his delivery, stuff and performance in the second half of 2013, after returning from forearm soreness. He put it all together in 2014, rocketing through four levels to reach the majors in September. The 21-yearold was the first prep lefthander and third prep pitcher overall from the 2011 class to reach the majors. He had surgery this offseason to remove loose bodies from his left elbow. Norris has a deep repertoire, and his ability to miss bats was unparalleled in the minors this year. He had the highest strikeout rate (11.8 K/9 and 32.5 percent of plate appearances) of any qualified starter in full-season ball this year, and his strikeout rate increased at each of his three minor league stops. His fastball velocity increased this year, sitting 91-95 mph and touching 97 as a starter. Norris' loose, quick arm works easily and produces downhill plane from a high three-quarters arm slot, which is slightly raised from earlier in his career. He gets good extension out front, helping give his stuff late riding life through the zone. His top secondary offering is a sharp, tight slider with at least plus potential that flashes plus-plus at its best. He shows feel for a changeup that also has at least plus potential, though he can get around on the pitch to give it cut-like action to his glove side. A curveball that has at least average potential and 1-7 tilt is Norris' fourth offering, despite occasionally having a velocity difference of nearly 20 mph off his fastball. Norris threw more strikes (3.1 walks per nine) than he ever has in his career and projects for at least average control. Norris entered the system throwing significantly across his body; that has been reduced, although he still throws across his body some, offering natural deception. Norris is staying taller on his backside and has reduced the rigidity to the front side of his delivery, particularly his front leg. His posture is now more upright at release after routinely being off-balance because of his cross-body direction. Norris will likely start the year in the rotation at the upper minors, and as long as he's healthy should crack the big league rotation in the second half.
The Blue Jays had seven of the first 78 picks in the 2011 draft, and while Norris was the sixth selection, he got the largest signing bonus at $2 million, which also was the most for any prep lefthander that year. He has moved slowly due to mechanical alterations and missed much of June 2013 with forearm tightness, then was substantially better after his return as the changes took hold. Norris' strong second half at low Class A Lansing in 2013 is a testament to his plus athleticism. He made several alterations to his stride that made his arm slot more consistent and improved his direction to the plate, whereas in the past he threw severely across his body and had a very stiff front leg. The differences were dramatic to scouts and his stat line, as he doubled his SO/BB ratio (3.4) in the second half. His release point became more consistent and his 91-95 mph fastball with above-average movement got greater downhill plane. His changeup became a more consistent plus offering to complement his plus mid-80s slider. His curveball, which had a large velocity separation, added power, flashing above-average. He still throws across his body some, and his command will have to improve. Norris, who should open 2014 at high Class A Dunedin, needs to show he can go deeper into games with imroved strike-throwing ability to reach his No. 3 starter ceiling.
The top high school lefthander in the 2011 draft class, Norris was projected as a mid-first-round pick, but teams were wary of his commitment to Clemson. Taking advantage of extra picks, the Blue Jays selected him in the second round--their sixth choice at No. 74 overall--and handed him a $2 million bonus at the signing deadline. His signing took some of the sting out of failing to land first-round pick Tyler Beede, who headed to Vanderbilt, but Norris' 2012 pro debut couldn't have gone much worse. He posted an 8.44 ERA as lower-level hitters batted .320 against him. Toronto attributed his struggles to adapting to changes in his delivery and approach. His mechanics were out of sync much of the season, and he couldn't find a consistent balance point, causing his arm to drag and costing him extension out front. That detracted from his fastball command, leading him to pitch behind in the count and up in the zone. Norris is very athletic--he was a quarterback until his senior year and showed easy power as a hitter--so he should be able to adapt to the adjustments over time. When he's on, Norris has a low-90s fastball that touches 96 mph, flashes the ability to spin a plus curveball and shows feel for a changeup. For all his struggles, he still struck out more than a batter per inning. Norris has front-of-the-rotation stuff but clearly needs better command to maximize his potential. His performance in spring training will determine his 2013 assignment, and he could begin the season in low Class A.
Norris entered 2011 rated as the top high school lefthander in his draft class and a projected mid-first-round pick, but his commitment to Clemson scared teams off. Armed with extra picks, the Blue Jays popped him with their sixth selection (No. 74 overall) and handed him a $2 million bonus at the Aug. 15 deadline. He helped take the edge off of the failure to sign 21st overall pick Tyler Beede. An outstanding athlete, Norris played quarterback until his senior year of high school, and he showed easy power as a hitter. His future is very much on the mound, however, where he has four pitches that project to be at least average. His fastball sits in the low 90s and can get up to 96 mph with good life. He shows feel for a changeup and throws both a curveball and slider. Both breaking balls have a chance to be plus pitches but vary in effectiveness. Like most high schoolers, Norris needs to clean up his mechanics, though his delivery has no red flags. He's a tough competitor and mature, with very good makeup. Norris' stuff and makeup give him the potential of a frontline starter. He could handle beginning his pro career in low Class A, though Toronto likes to ease its prep arms into pro ball. It wouldn't be a surprise if he starts 2012 in extended spring training and debuts at short-season Vancouver in June.
Minor League Top Prospects
Norris broke camp with the Blue Jays amid high expectations, but those proved to be premature. He struggled with his command while only showing flashes of his potential. Toronto sent Norris down to Buffalo in early May and traded him to the Tigers at the deadline as the centerpiece of the David Price deal. Norris' stuff was better than his results during his three months with Buffalo and commanding four potential major league pitches is his main roadblock. He works off a mid-90s fastball that, when he is in rhythm, he can locate to both sides of the plate. He backs it up with an above-average slider, and mixes in a potentially above-average changeup and a curveball that flattens out if he overthrows it. Buffalo manager Gary Allenson compared Norris' growing pains to those of Jake Arrieta, whose stuff was apparent with the Orioles early in his career, but he struggled to put it all together before this season with the Cubs.
Norris entered the season with a career ERA north of 5.00 and a reputation centered more around his offseason surfing and Volkswagon van camping habits than his pitching. He exits 2014 a big leaguer, thanks to his ability to evolve. The physical adjustments began in 2013, when the athletic southpaw improved his direction to the plate. The mental adjustments this year were the next step. Norris started consistently attacking hitters with a low-90s fastball that comes out of his hand easy, then has the "innate ability to go get a little more when he needs it," Dunedin pitching coach Darold Knowles said, noting Norris' ability to reach 96 mph. Norris' pitch-sequencing has improved significantly as he has learned when to deploy his plus slider, which reaches 86 mph, and improved changeup. He throws his slow curve for strikes and has developed into a four-pitch lefty who repeats his delivery and has a professional routine and attitude.
The third of three Blue Jays prospects to make this list, Norris signed for $2 million at the 2011 deadline and struggled in his pro debut this summer. His 7.97 ERA was somewhat misleading, because he had the worst baserunner strand rate (45 percent) in the league. He had similar issues in two starts at short-season Vancouver. Though Norris' arm strength--his fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 96 mph--and projectability are evident, he often fails to stay in sync with his mechanics. He struggles to strike a balance point in his delivery and his arm drags, leaving him unable to get over his front side and get extension. He imparts quality spin on a potentially plus curveball and he also has feel for a changeup, but he'll need a repeatable delivery to get the most out of them.
Top 100 Rankings
Background: Norris entered 2011 rated as the top high school lefthander in his draft class and a projected mid-first-round pick, but his commitment to Clemson scared teams off. Armed with extra picks, the Blue Jays popped him with their sixth selection (No. 74 overall) and handed him a $2 million bonus at the Aug. 15 deadline. Scouting Report: An outstanding athlete, Norris played quarterback until his senior year of high school, and he showed easy power as a hitter. His future is very much on the mound, however, where he has four pitches that project to be at least average. His fastball sits in the low 90s and can get up to 96 mph with good life. He shows feel for a changeup and throws both a curveball and slider. Both breaking balls have a chance to be plus pitches but vary in effectiveness. Like most high schoolers, Norris needs to clean up his mechanics, though his delivery has no red flags. He's a tough competitor and mature, with very good makeup. The Future: Norris' stuff and makeup give him the potential of a frontline starter. He could handle beginning his pro career in low Class A, though Toronto likes to ease its prep arms into pro ball. It wouldn't be a surprise if he starts 2012 in extended spring training and debuts at short-season Vancouver in June.