The 2013 season was a tale of two halves for Daniel Norris.
The 20-year-old struggled out of the gate at Low-A Lansing, showing the same overall inconsistency that plagued him in 2012. As a result, Norris posted an ugly 5.8 ERA and 48-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 45 innings before landing on the disabled list in early June with forearm tightness.
But Norris was a different pitcher upon returning from the injury; the 6’2” left-hander made an adjustment to the length of his stride that allowed him to repeat a more consistent release point and better stay in line with his target.
The southpaw’s second-half numbers are a testament to what he can do when firing on all cylinders. Between July and August, Norris registered a stellar 2.17 ERA and 52-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 45.2 innings.
Norris’ turnaround led to his recent ranking as the Blue Jays’ No. 4 prospect for the 2014 season. Here’s a look at his scouting report:
Left-hander’s fastball works in the 92-94 mph range, and he can reach back for a few additional ticks as needed; slider is a swing-and-miss offering with plus potential, thrown with depth and late bite; has the makings of an above-average changeup, but command and feel will need refinement; curveball lacks projection but will serve as serviceable, change-of-pace offering at maturity; secondary arsenal lacks consistency but should improve with experience; potential to take a huge step forward in 2014 with improved command.
Norris should open the 2014 season at High-A Dunedin after making his final regular-season start there last year, and he’s poised to put up impressive numbers in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League if his new-and-improved mechanics carry over.