DUNEDIN, FL - Last year's second round Daniel Norris is coming off his first professional stint…
Scouting Prospect #90: Daniel Norris
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Events Scouted: Perfect Game National, AFLAC All-American
Norris has an average frame with some room to fill out. He still has the look of a teenager and figures to pack on some muscle as he matures. He's loose and highly athletic, and his easy delivery is what makes him so intriguing. Norris also has extra long limbs, and is broad in the shoulders. You see many pitchers out of high school that produce big velocity because they are just more physically advanced than their peers. That's not the case with Norris. There's a great deal of projection here.
In terms of his delivery, Norris is very clean compared to his peers in the high school class. After seeing multiple appearances, I saw no inconsistencies with his delivery, and he showed it was very repeatable pitch to pitch.
Norris works from a full wind-up. He leans back slightly when he reaches his balance point and there's a slight collapse on his back leg. But, he rights himself quickly and gets on the top of the ball with very little issue. Norris also closes his front shoulder slightly, making him particularly deceptive against left-handed batters.
Out of his leg kick, Norris takes a long stride and uses his lower half extremely well. He releases the ball at a high-3/4 angle and gets solid extension toward the plate. He tends to cut himself off a bit early at times and spin toward the third base side, but it's a very minor mechanical issue that will be ironed out at the professional level. Overall though, he consistently stays on line with the plate, keeps his head on the target, finishes his pitches well, and has outstanding timing in his delivery.
Like most pitchers drafted out of high school, it was the fastball that put Norris on the map. Throughout last summer, Norris worked anywhere between 91-95 mph, and typically lived around 92-94 mph when I saw him. He was at his best at AFLAC, where he worked at 93-95 mph. He does it with great ease and with a long, loose arm action.
Norris has also proven capable and willing to pound the fastball in on right-handed hitters. It serves as one of the ways he sets up his potential above-average changeup. While he shows some occasional arm side run, for the most part the fastball is pretty straight from this Tennessee native. But, as well as he locates right now the movement isn't much of a concern. The life through the zone and late hop on his present 6 and future 7 fastball is more than enough to miss bats on a regular basis
Probably Norris' third best offering, this is the pitch that needs the most work. While it's a fringe-average big league pitch right now, his command is inconsistent at this point and he struggles at times to find the release point. That said, he has flashed big league average curveballs at times in the last year.
He works at 73-75 mph with 11-5 break. If he can tighten up this pitch in the coming years and improve his command, it has the potential to be a plus pitch or a 6 on the 2-8 scale. It does get him swing and misses when he's at his best, but it's just too inconsistent at this stage to be a considered above average. But, when he's really dealing he shows big downward action that would give any hitter fits.
You love to see a young pitcher have such conviction in a changeup and Norris has just that. It's a legitimate swing and miss offering to right-hand hitters and he's shown he can dot with outside corner with relative ease. As under control as he is in his delivery, you can understand why he can command a feel pitch like the changeup.
It doesn't figure to be a dominant pitch at the next level but it does project above average long term. He'll get his swings and misses, but it will also net him a lot of ugly swings and weak ground balls. Thrown at 80-83 mph, he's getting an excellent differential from his low to mid 90s fastball.
There's not a lot of downside to Daniel Norris. He's somewhat physically immature, but already has such impressive present stuff that you have to be intrigued about what he could turn out to be in the long term. He has harnessed three quality pitches, has a plus fastball from the left side, and he repeats his delivery like a more polished college pitcher.
His potential big league career is years away, but if he packs on some muscle and proves durable, he has the framework of a frontline starting pitcher. Lefties that sit 92-94 and have two quality secondary pitches don't grow on trees. And, he shows a feel for pitching that is very rare to see coming out of high school.
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