Just A Matter Of Time For Norris

BLUEFIELD, WV - Daniel Norris, a second round pick a year ago, is working through his first full season in the Toronto organization. While the highly touted prospect's numbers in Bluefield this season are less than stellar, the coaches said they are seeing good signs on the mound from him.

The season for Norris started with a lights-out start in Bristol in his professional debut, just a few minutes down the road from his hometown of Johnson City, Tenn., where he tossed four hitless, shutout innings and fanned five batters. Since then, however, his ERA has climbed over six through 31 innings pitched.

His most recent start on Aug. 4 against Bristol, Norris only lasted 3.1 innings and gave up six earned runs on nine hits. Even though the statistics may not show it, the coaches said they saw good signs from Norris in that start.

"He got hit around, but we aren't concerned with that too much," Bluefield pitching coach Antonio Caceres said. "Before [that start], his mechanics were off, everything was up and getting flat. But he threw a lot of strikes, worked over the ball, and did the things that we think are going to take him where we want him to go.

"I was happy with the way he threw the ball. We see the future we want to see right now. He's making a lot of progress. It's just a matter of time."

Caceres said they have been working with Norris on cleaning up a few aspects of his delivery.

"He's breaking down on his back leg and collapsing a little too much," Caceres said. "He's getting really low and pushing the ball a little bit.

"We want him to stay taller and run the ball down, get better sink on the ball. I think we did that [in his most recent start], the best I've seen him do it."

Norris has a curveball and slider in his arsenal, but said he is learning to pitch with his fastball and changeup while he looks ahead to the bigger picture.

"I have a lot of confidence in all of my pitches and I'm able to throw them all for strikes," Norris said. "This being the first year, I'm mainly focusing on fastballs and changeups.

"I may throw two sliders and two or three curveballs in an outing. When I'm able to mix those pitches a little better and get ground outs, that's when I usually have more success.

"I realize it's a bigger picture. If you can learn how to pitch with a fastball and a few changeups and have success, that will come a long way. Once you can mix it up with the curveball and slider, that's when it gets even easier."

Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg said several rain delays and rainouts, his piggyback partner Joe Musgrove being traded to the Astros, mixed with some family concerns have led to Norris missing out on being able to settle into a five-day routine early in the season and help him make the adjustment to being a professional pitcher.

"He's got the stuff to be a big leaguer, but he's too young right now to understand the difference in high school ball and just throwing it by guys," Holmberg said. "He's been sharp with some fastballs.

"He's been sharp with breaking balls and thrown a couple good changeups, but obviously he left too many balls up in the zone that were hittable."

Norris said he is working on being more consistent.

"My stuff is there," Norris said. "It's not like I'm way down on some things. It's just being able to consistently have a good start after another good start.

"I'll have an outstanding start and then go out and have just an okay start and then a bad outing numbers-wise. The main thing is just consistency with the delivery and being able to repeat my delivery. It's just a matter of time before it starts translating into the numbers."

The coaching staff maintains that Norris will continue to improve.

"We like his stuff," Caceres said. "We like his velocity. We like his secondary pitches and his movement on the ball. It's just a matter of time before he gets it and things are going to go his way."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nThe season for Norris started with a lights-out start in Bristol in his professional debut, just a few minutes down the road from his hometown of Johnson City, Tenn., where he tossed four hitless, shutout innings and fanned five batters. Since then, however, his ERA has climbed over six through 31 innings pitched.
\r\n
\r\nHis most recent start on Aug. 4 against Bristol, Norris only lasted 3.1 innings and gave up six earned runs on nine hits. Even though the statistics may not show it, the coaches said they saw good signs from Norris in that start.
\r\n
\r\n\"He got hit around, but we aren't concerned with that too much,\" Bluefield pitching coach Antonio Caceres said. \"Before [that start], his mechanics were off, everything was up and getting flat. But he threw a lot of strikes, worked over the ball, and did the things that we think are going to take him where we want him to go.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was happy with the way he threw the ball. We see the future we want to see right now. He's making a lot of progress. It's just a matter of time.\"
\r\n
\r\nCaceres said they have been working with Norris on cleaning up a few aspects of his delivery.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's breaking down on his back leg and collapsing a little too much,\" Caceres said. \"He's getting really low and pushing the ball a little bit.
\r\n
\r\n\"We want him to stay taller and run the ball down, get better sink on the ball. I think we did that [in his most recent start], the best I've seen him do it.\"
\r\n
\r\nNorris has a curveball and slider in his arsenal, but said he is learning to pitch with his fastball and changeup while he looks ahead to the bigger picture.
\r\n
\r\n\"I have a lot of confidence in all of my pitches and I'm able to throw them all for strikes,\" Norris said. \"This being the first year, I'm mainly focusing on fastballs and changeups.
\r\n
\r\n\"I may throw two sliders and two or three curveballs in an outing. When I'm able to mix those pitches a little better and get ground outs, that's when I usually have more success.
\r\n
\r\n\"I realize it's a bigger picture. If you can learn how to pitch with a fastball and a few changeups and have success, that will come a long way. Once you can mix it up with the curveball and slider, that's when it gets even easier.\"
\r\n
\r\nBluefield manager Dennis Holmberg said several rain delays and rainouts, his piggyback partner Joe Musgrove being traded to the Astros, mixed with some family concerns have led to Norris missing out on being able to settle into a five-day routine early in the season and help him make the adjustment to being a professional pitcher.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's got the stuff to be a big leaguer, but he's too young right now to understand the difference in high school ball and just throwing it by guys,\" Holmberg said. \"He's been sharp with some fastballs.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's been sharp with breaking balls and thrown a couple good changeups, but obviously he left too many balls up in the zone that were hittable.\"
\r\n
\r\nNorris said he is working on being more consistent.
\r\n
\r\n\"My stuff is there,\" Norris said. \"It's not like I'm way down on some things. It's just being able to consistently have a good start after another good start.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'll have an outstanding start and then go out and have just an okay start and then a bad outing numbers-wise. The main thing is just consistency with the delivery and being able to repeat my delivery. It's just a matter of time before it starts translating into the numbers.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe coaching staff maintains that Norris will continue to improve.
\r\n
\r\n\"We like his stuff,\" Caceres said. \"We like his velocity. We like his secondary pitches and his movement on the ball. It's just a matter of time before he gets it and things are going to go his way.\"
\r\n
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