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James Norwood: Prospect Profile for Chicago Cubs' 7th-Round Pick

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James Norwood: Prospect Profile for Chicago Cubs' 7th-Round Pick
Graphic created by Bleacher Report

Player: James Norwood

Drafted by: Chicago Cubs

Position: RHP

DOB: 12/24/1993 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 200 pounds

Bats/Throws: R/R

School: St. Louis

Previously Drafted: Never

 

Background

Hailing from the Bronx in New York City, right-hander James Norwood went undrafted out of high school in 2011 and followed through on his commitment to St. Louis University.

Norwood appeared in 20 games for the Bilikens as a freshman, as he showed the ability to consistently miss bats out of the bullpen and also made four starts. Overall, he registered a 2.23 ERA and 36/12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 40.1 innings.

Norwood was expected to move into the starting rotation in 2013—or at least start games more frequently—and generally seemed poised for a breakthrough campaign. However, an elbow strain limited the right-hander to only seven appearances (one start), as he’d finish the season with a 4.71 ERA in 21 innings.

Finally healthy this past spring, Norwood excelled after moving into the starting rotation full time, as he quickly emerged as the team’s ace with an 8-2 record and 2.68 ERA in 94 innings, as well as with three complete games in 15 starts.

Norwood isn’t a well-known commodity like many of the other college pitchers in this year’s class, but his pure stuff and brief college track record both suggest the right-hander has plenty of untapped potential.

 

Full Scouting Report

Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 20-80 scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second. 

Body/Mechanics

6’2”, 200-pound right-hander has durable, workhorse build; good use of strong core and lower half; missed most of 2013 season with elbow strain but hasn’t shown any ill effects of injury; present plus arm strength with room to improve with experience.

Courtesy of YouTube user Jheremy Brown

 

Fastball: 55/60

Works comfortably in the 92-95 mph range with decent sinking action and late arm-side run; feel for manipulating the pitch to generate cutting action or more sink; holds velocity into his starts; chance to add another tick or two with natural development; pitch can be difficult to barrel and lift.

 

Slider: 50/60

Thrown with velocity and good tilt at 83-86 mph; features tight spin and sharp diving action out of the zone; present swing-and-miss offering based on arm speed.

 

Curveball: 40/55

Potential above-average offering thrown in the upper 70s with good pace and depth; generates late bite when he stays on top of the ball; projects as a decent swing-and-miss offering with improved consistency.

Courtesy of Baseball America

 

Changeup: 40/50

Feel for changeup has steadily improved since moving into rotation; registers in low 80s with natural sinking action and decent fade; he currently pronates a little early but shows consistent feel for turning over pitch; should develop into at least an average offering.

 

Control: 40/55

Usually around the plate with entire arsenal; present control issues stem from lack of experience and innings; good pitchability with room for growth; command may only be slightly above average due to natural movement on pitches.

 

Command: 40/50

Fastball command will be crucial to overall development and dictate the effectiveness of his secondary arsenal; lack of experience gives him plenty of room for improvement; excellent late-inning profile if command profile never comes to fruition.

 

MLB Player Comparison: Tyson Ross

While Norwood doesn’t quite compare to Ross from a physical standpoint, both right-handers feature exceptional fastball movement, a swing-and-miss breaking ball and at least one additional offering that is at least serviceable.

 

Projection: No. 3 or 4 starter/late-inning reliever

 

Major Leagues ETA: Starter: late 2017/reliever: mid-2016

 

Chances of Signing: 90 percent

Norwood is a late-bloomer with a limited track record, but his heavy fastball and underrated pitchability could make him a potential steal for a team outside of the first round.

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