Life-Changing Event For John Norwood

JUPITER, Fla.John Norwood was in right field at high Class A Jupiter last season when, as is his custom, he said hello to the opposing team’s relievers as they warmed up.

In the bullpen was Reds righthander Nick Howard. He and Norwood talked for only a second, but it was their first encounter since June 25, 2014.

That’s when Norwood’s life changed forever.

On a 1-0 pitch from Howard, Norwood turned on a 97 mph fastball and lined a solo homer to left field, breaking an eighth-inning tie in the final game of the College World Series and leading Vanderbilt to a 3-2 win against Virginia.

It was an unexpected blast from a player who hit just four homers in three college seasons. He hit .159 as a freshman and didn’t become a starter until 2014, his junior year.

Norwood, now 24, credits his mother Paula Burroughs for the quality person he has become, even as he has navigated tough situations. For example, he is estranged from his father Clarence Norwood, a former running back who played with Dan Marino at the University of Pittsburgh.

Norwood starred in baseball at his New Jersey high school, and the Blue Jays made him a 12th-round pick in 2011. They offered $800,000, but he decided he wasn’t ready for pro ball, mentally or physically.

Norwood went undrafted in 2014, but the Marlins, who had money remaining in their bonus pool, signed Norwood for $275,000, which is a robust bonus amount for an undrafted player.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Norwood is beginning to blossom with the consistent playing time he didn’t early on at Vandy.

He hit 16 homers in 2015 and nine last season and appears destined for Double-A Jacksonville this year.

“I started a leg kick during the (2014) super regionals,” Norwood said of his power. “Ever since then, it’s helped my timing.”


Reliever Tayron Guerrero, a 6-foot-8 righthander, threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts for Colombia at the World Baseball Classic.

Third baseman Brian Anderson, the organization’s top position prospect, played well in the early stages of big league camp, going 9-for-26 (.346) with a home run.

— Walter Villa is a writer based in Miami

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone