Norris Getting His Feet Wet

After a 2011 draft in which the Blue Jays focused heavily on young arms, Instructional League play is where most of these new pitchers will be on display. Left-hander Daniel Norris was the first to see competitive play for the Jays during Instructs, getting the start against the Yankees on Sept. 28.

The 18-year-old second round pick out of Science Hill High School in Tennessee pitched two innings in his first professional outing. He gave up three runs, two of which came via a homer, and struck out two. He did not issue a walk. Norris assessed his first experience as a professional ball player.

"It felt okay. Just kind of gotta get the first one out of the way," he said. "I didn't make some pitches that I should've made, but that's a part of baseball. You're gonna mess up sometimes but I had fun. I appreciate the opportunity being able to go out there as a professional baseball player and I had a lot of fun."

Norris touts four pitches in his repertoire. He features a low-90s fastball that can reach 93, a low-80s changeup, low-70s curveball as well as a slider. In that first outing against the Yankees, Norris was primarily focused on using his fastball and changeup. This was by design, he explained.

"Primarily we were doing fastball/changeup, so I felt comfortable with that," Norris stated. "Maybe next time I'll be able to put in some breaking balls, but that's a part of just kind of the learning process of learning how and when to do that."

The 6-foot-2 lefty also threw one curveball during his first outing that broke dramatically as it crossed the plate, but was ruled a ball. He explained how using his breaking pitches differs from high school to now in pro ball.

"In high school, I could throw pretty much a curveball or slider whenever I wanted, and I could start a guy off with that, but here, the hitters are gonna pick up on that — pick up your tendencies as a pitcher so in time, they will be able to guess your pitches," he said. "You gotta kind of be careful with that. Add them in in the right scenarios."

And though Norris didn't throw a slider, which he said is his newest pitch, he does have plenty of confidence in it. He expects to be using it in his next outing.

"It was really good for me because a lot of teams that I had faced all growing up in my life knew my curveball and they knew when I would throw it, so when I added a slider, they didn't know about that. It helped me a lot," he said. "It's come a long way really in less than a year so I feel really comfortable with that pitch. My next start I'm sure we'll mix it up a little bit more."

Norris said that while he's in Dunedin for Instructs, he would like to become more knowledgeable on how to play the game. On top of that, he's excited to work on his mechanics, and is content with how much the coaching staff has been teaching him thus far. He spoke about what the coaches have been having the players focus on outside of competitive play.

"We're doing a lot of conditioning work and working out — just making sure our bodies are ready for when we need to pitch. That's pretty much the main focus. As long as you're going out there healthy, they're happy," Norris said.

"Your performance will show if you work hard. If you're not working hard, then maybe you're not gonna have the best outing, but if you're working hard, it'll all come together at some point or another."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nThe 18-year-old second round pick out of Science Hill High School in Tennessee pitched two innings in his first professional outing. He gave up three runs, two of which came via a homer, and struck out two. He did not issue a walk. Norris assessed his first experience as a professional ball player.
\r\n
\r\n\"It felt okay. Just kind of gotta get the first one out of the way,\" he said. \"I didn't make some pitches that I should've made, but that's a part of baseball. You're gonna mess up sometimes but I had fun. I appreciate the opportunity being able to go out there as a professional baseball player and I had a lot of fun.\"
\r\n
\r\nNorris touts four pitches in his repertoire. He features a low-90s fastball that can reach 93, a low-80s changeup, low-70s curveball as well as a slider. In that first outing against the Yankees, Norris was primarily focused on using his fastball and changeup. This was by design, he explained.
\r\n
\r\n\"Primarily we were doing fastball/changeup, so I felt comfortable with that,\" Norris stated. \"Maybe next time I'll be able to put in some breaking balls, but that's a part of just kind of the learning process of learning how and when to do that.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe 6-foot-2 lefty also threw one curveball during his first outing that broke dramatically as it crossed the plate, but was ruled a ball. He explained how using his breaking pitches differs from high school to now in pro ball.
\r\n
\r\n\"In high school, I could throw pretty much a curveball or slider whenever I wanted, and I could start a guy off with that, but here, the hitters are gonna pick up on that — pick up your tendencies as a pitcher so in time, they will be able to guess your pitches,\" he said. \"You gotta kind of be careful with that. Add them in in the right scenarios.\"
\r\n
\r\nAnd though Norris didn't throw a slider, which he said is his newest pitch, he does have plenty of confidence in it. He expects to be using it in his next outing.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was really good for me because a lot of teams that I had faced all growing up in my life knew my curveball and they knew when I would throw it, so when I added a slider, they didn't know about that. It helped me a lot,\" he said. \"It's come a long way really in less than a year so I feel really comfortable with that pitch. My next start I'm sure we'll mix it up a little bit more.\"
\r\n
\r\nNorris said that while he's in Dunedin for Instructs, he would like to become more knowledgeable on how to play the game. On top of that, he's excited to work on his mechanics, and is content with how much the coaching staff has been teaching him thus far. He spoke about what the coaches have been having the players focus on outside of competitive play.
\r\n
\r\n\"We're doing a lot of conditioning work and working out — just making sure our bodies are ready for when we need to pitch. That's pretty much the main focus. As long as you're going out there healthy, they're happy,\" Norris said.
\r\n
\r\n\"Your performance will show if you work hard. If you're not working hard, then maybe you're not gonna have the best outing, but if you're working hard, it'll all come together at some point or another.\"
\r\n
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