Jays prospect Daniel Norris on the way

* A year ago this week Blue Jays scouting director Andrew Tinnish made LHP Daniel Norris his second-round pick and then gave him the club's largest signing bonus of the 2011 draft, paying him $2 million .... 2012 Canadians in the Minors  2012 Canadians in College 2012 Canadians draft list Letters of Intent


By Clayton Richer

The Baseball Hot Corner

Daniel Norris was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the second round, 74th overall in the 2011 draft out of Johnson City, Tenn. Norris was slotted to go much earlier in the draft but was regarded by teams as a “hard sign” due to his commitment to Clemson University.

The Toronto Blue Jays selected Norris in the second round and it seemed to pay off as both side were able to come to an agreement on a contract with a $2 million dollar signing bonus.

Norris is ranked the 91st best prospect in baseball by Baseball America and he has yet to leave the Jays extended spring training in Florida or toe the rubber in an official minor league game. The lefty has an impressive repertoire of pitches on the mound but even-more impressive are the teenagers values and morals of the devote Christian who wears his faith on his sleeve.

Norris has yet to be assigned to a minor league team but one would think he will begin the short season in June with the Vancouver Canadians where he will get a chance to showcase that million dollar arm. It wont be long before Norris is flying through the ranks of the Jays pitching rich farm system and he is a household name north of the border.

All you have to do is read the interview below and it wont take long to realize that 1.) Norris knows pitching and what he has to do to be successful at the major league level and 2.)  Norris is going to be a bearded VW driving role model for Canadian kids for years to come. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.


1. You were regarded as a “hard sign” for many teams out of high school, what was the deciding factor to sign with the Blue Jays and forego university and secondly how soon in the process did you know you were going to sign with the Blue Jays?

Thinking back on the whole process I am confident that I knew where my heart was all along. It has been my dream to be a pro ball player all my life. Although, Clemson is an amazing place I still knew I wanted to play professionally.


2. It is no secret that you are a devote Christian, what influence does your faith have on and off the baseball field?

You’re right! God is number 1 in my life and always will be. On and off the field my faith is my strongest attribute. On the field I have 100% faith that God will get me through any obstacles that come my way. In my opinion that is to my advantage because I know that he is in control and I can relax and play the game I love. Off the field, I try to live my life as an example of how Christ lived His life. Obviously, I am not perfect and never will be but if I am consciously trying to please God and follow His word throughout my life it makes it easier to avoid situations I shouldn’t be in.


3. You signed with the Jays out of high school for $2 million, what was the biggest item you purchased with the signing bonus and how soon after?

All of my life I have wanted a VW van. So when God blessed me with this opportunity to play baseball as a job, well I figured it would be nice to have my dream car. So immediately my father and I searched for the right van. it took awhile to find a good clean one in great condition but when I found this one I knew it was the one. A 1978 VW Westphalia camper van!


4. What pitches do you throw and what is your “out pitch “and what type of velocity do your pitches hover around?

I throw a 4-seam fastball that will usually sit around 92-95 getting up to 6 or 7, a two-seam fastball at 89-93, a change at 83-86, a slider at 83-85 and a curve at 71-74. I would have to say my ‘out’ pitch is my curve however all of them can be out pitches with good command. That goes for any pitcher.


5. What MLB player do you try to emulate your pitching style around?

Clayton Kershaw, he is a great one to watch pitch. He goes right after hitters and uses all 4 of his pitches at any point in the count. I like the way he competes and never gives in.


6. You are currently in extended spring training in Florida; do you figure to be assigned to the short season with the Vancouver Canadians in June?

I’m not really sure where I will be assigned to. I wish I had an answer for you but I know as much as you do at this point. What I do know is that I am using this time in Extended to improve my delivery as well as every other part of my game and so far it has gone great!


7. What has been your biggest baseball related accomplishment to date?

Being drafted was always a stepping stone goal I have had. Accomplishing that was nice but now I have more goals to achieve.


8. How does it feel being ranked the 91st best prospect having never thrown a pitch in the minor leagues and do you follow the rankings?

Well I sure do appreciate the recognition, however I don’t follow the rankings. I try to focus on what I can control, such as working hard and putting myself in a good position to make it as far as I can.


9. Your ultimate walk out song for your major league debut in Toronto?

Hmm, my favorite artist is Jack Johnson but I might have to go with Way down in the hole by Citizen Cope at this point.


10. What is the one pitch you feel you need to add or perfect to be a successful major league pitcher?

Change Up as a specific pitch. fastball command is most important. And although I have been very pleased with the progress of my change there is always room for improvement.


11. BONUS QUESTION- Recent photos have shown you rocking the big beard, any chance we have a future “Brian Wilson” on our hands in Toronto?

FEAR THE BEARD. Haha. yeah I mean why not. I love my beard and I enjoy letting it go free. We will have to wait and see.