DUNEDIN, Fla – Daniel Norris hasn’t taken as quickly as some might have anticipated, but the young prospect is ready to change his fortunes.
The second-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 struggled in his first year-and-a-half in the minor leagues until a solid end to his most recent season in Lansing gave some much needed confidence to the talented lefty heading into 2014.
Norris recalls a change in mindset that buoyed him to the best pitching of his minor league career.
“I think my first year I was worried about stats,” Norris said. “I was like man I got to put up numbers and all this and I didn’t. Then this past year I started again like that and in April I had a 10.00 ERA or something and I was just worried.
“Then I just thought why, why does that matter? That was something Vince [Horsman, Lansing pitching coach and Nova Scotia native] told me, he said, ‘If you do what you’re supposed to do, then I’m in your corner.'”
Norris is quick to credit the coaches around him for his mid-season turnaround.
“From a coaching perspective, Dane Johnson our pitching coordinator has been unbelievable,” Norris said. “He’s helped me both mechanically and mentally.”
From mid-May to the end of August, Norris posted a 2.12 earned run average to go along with a 1.26 WHIP and 83 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings.
After pressures of producing statistically vacated Norris’ mind, he took off the way the Blue Jays had hoped when they made him the first southpaw taken in the 2011 draft.
Norris carried this late-season momentum into the off-season and he proceeded to enter camp in the best shape of his life, yet another positive heading into his third campaign.
“I finished the year last year at 12.4 per cent body fat…We came in[this year] and did body pumps and I was at 7.4 per cent.
“It was time for me to get serious about what I was doing,” Norris said.
That mindset speaks volumes about Norris’ mental progression. A level head is something the young hurler takes pride in, and he believes that the success will take care of itself as long as he executes to the best of his abilities.
“If I’m ready to go every fifth day then I know I’m going to have success this year,” Norris said. “I know I’ll have a good year if I bring what I should to the table every day.”