From High-A Dunedin to Double-A New Hampshire to Triple-A Buffalo, Daniel Norris’s wild season has taken the 21 year old left-hander to three different cities in three different states across three different levels. Now it will take him to a fourth. Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davdi has reported that as previously rumored, the Blue Jays will promote Norris to the big league club as one of a handful of September Call-Ups.
Norris, 21, has been one of the top breakout prospects in baseball this, jettisoning his way from High-A to the game’s highest level. Along the way, he appeared in 26 games (25 starts) and went 12-2 with a 2.53 ERA while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. Baseball America, which did not have the former second round pick listed on their top 100 before the year, named him as the game’s 25th best prospect in their mid-season rankings.
Norris will be the third hard throwing Blue Jays prospect to make their debut this season, joining teammates Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. As they did with both Sanchez and Stroman, Toronto will transition Norris to the majors by way of the bullpen gate. He already made one relief appearance Sunday night in Triple-A, where he struck out three Chiefs over two no-hit innings.
With a darting low-90’s fastball from a 3/4 arm slot, Norris has the looks of a successful left handed reliever. His ability to throw three legitimate off-speed pitches – curveball, change-up, and slider – gives him a deeper arsenal than most of his bullpen peers, and should allow Toronto to use him against hitters on both sides of the plate.
Graveman, 23, has quietly had a similar year to Norris in many respects. He actually started the year from a lower vantage point than Norris, at Class-A Lansing. He dominated in four starts there (0.34 ERA), and then pitched exceptionally (8-4, 2.23 ERA) for Dunedin before being promoted to New Hampshire and ultimately to Buffalo. He actually had a better ERA than Norris at every stop. With a K/9 of 5.2, however, Graveman doesn’t miss bats like Norris does and wasn’t even ranked among the Blue Jays midseason top 20 prospects.
Nolin made that list, though, slotting in at #11. A finesse left-hander who throws around 90 MPH but relies on his control of his plus change-up and two breaking balls to succeed, Nolin,24, owns a 3.50 ERA with Buffalo this year. He made one start for the big league club last May, but got hammered to the tune of six runs over just an inning and a third.
Gose’s speed and range in center once made him an elite prospect, but an inability to hit with any consistency or power has kept him from major league success. He has bounced around between Toronto and Buffalo this year, but has shown little at either level that would indicate substantial improvement at the plate. In 205 major league plate appearances, he hit to .234/.333/.291 slash line, and had just a .244/.305/.346 line over 225 plate appearances for Buffalo. This could be it for Gose in Canada. The 24 year old will be out of options after this season and would become available to every major league team if he doesn’t make the 2015 club.
Ryan Goins, 26, doesn’t bring much in the power department, but he did hit a .284 for Buffalo this year and can provide solid defense at second and short. In fact, the defensive metrics love his glove, with Baseball Reference putting a value of 2.5 wins on his fielding from 2013 to 2014 and Fangraphs noting that he has projected to save the Blue Jays 27.7 runs per 150 games in the field in his brief major league career. The offensive metrics are less enamored: .543 OPS in 277 plate appearance.
Dan Johnson is a name that just simply won’t go away. The hero of the Rays 2011 playoff run signed a minor league contract with Toronto, his sixth organization, in November and has appeared in 13 games thus far for them. He hit just .232 in Buffalo, but with 18 home runs in 362 at bats and an on base percentage of .381. Don’t expect much, but he could have value as a pinch-hitter down the stretch; he certainly did for the Rays.