Dan Norris: still awesome.
As I mentioned yesterday, there’s all kinds of prospect-y goodness I’ve been sitting on, and with everybody getting excited-ish about the Jays’ youngsters again, I think it’s high time I unleashed it. So, with as little rhyme or reason as possible, here’s some prospect stuff, which I’ll bookend with items out of Keith Law’s chat with readers yesterday at ESPN.com:
Seeing the struggles of Daniel Norris, would he be better off in the bullpen? Maybe shutdown closer?
Little early to give up on him, but that’s a fair long-term outlook. Poor command guy who has always struggled to repeat the arm action.
Might as well get this one over with.Can Kevin Pillar have an impact in the majors?
I think he’s an extra outfielder. Not to say he won’t do much in the next six weeks, but over the course of a full year I think he’d be below-average for a corner outfielder.
The Klawchat excerpts that I’ll save for the end of the post focus on guys who are no longer– or never were– in the Jays system, while the ones on Norris and Pillar seem as good a place to start as any, as there are other items those two– both of which offer maybe a little more hope than Keith’s cold realism (though, to be fair, putting the shutdown closer tag on Norris ain’t nothing).
In the preamble to an interview piece with Norris, David Laurila of FanGraphs actually suggests something a little similar, comparing the up-and-down young lefty to Boston’s Drake Britton, who is having success in the Red Sox’ bullpen right now, despite having similarly started their pro careers slowly. Norris appears to be turning the corner– since May 13th (with a month off for a forearm injury in the middle of the sample) he’s posted a 2.40 ERA at Lansing over 48.2 innings, with a still-worrying 27 walks, but an impressive 67 strikeouts– after putting up some fugly numbers at Bluefield and Vancouver last year, with an 8.44 ERA combined across the two levels.
“I’d never experienced that kind of failure,” he tells Laurila. “I’m actually thankful for last year, and the beginning of this year, because I’ve learned how to deal with adversity. Now, the next day, I’m ready to go back out there and get better. It’s been a blessing in disguise for me to have some bad games.”
As for the concerns that Law has about the repeatable arm action, Norris says it’s been a struggle, especially since completely revamping his delivery last year. “My delivery has been a lot more consistent, and I’m able to get on top of the ball more. Hard work pays off, getting that muscle memory into your mechanics.”
There is a whole lot more good stuff in Laurila’s piece, including a discussion of repertoire and velocity that I’ll leave you to head over to FanGraphs and read all about.
With his big league debut coming yesterday, there has been much written about Kevin Pillar already, so there isn’t a whole lot more that I can offer, but I’ll try. For one, as I’ve passed along twice before, there was the impressive conclusion to a much larger scouting report at Baseball Prospectus last month:
Hit utility is very impressive; knack for getting the barrel to the ball; doesn’t have a ton of power but hits it hard enough to pick up some doubles and avoid the slap hitter tag; offensive profile will be batting-average driven but has natural feel for the craft to make it work; defensive ability is a little surprising with potential to handle center field in a pinch; ability to play center field helps the overall profile; arm and speed are average; speed can play up at times thanks to instincts; heady player; plays the game hard; manager’s dream in terms of effort; fourth outfield floor and could carve out a career as a solid second-division guy.
“I think we felt that way too,” Alex Anthopoulos said last night on Prime Time Sports (in an interview you can see in a clip above Michael Grange’s Pillar piece at Sportsnet) when asked about the suggestions that Pillar’s ceiling is merely as a fourth outfielder. “We’ve been wrong already as an industry on what we labelled him as, he’s one of those guys that, I think, his character and his work ethic and his makeup– he’s been able to play above his tools. Some people say he’s a fourth outfielder, some people say he’s an everyday player, some people think he has a chance to be more than that.”
Ewan Ross of Blue Jays Plus notes that the Jays’ second round pick this year, right-hander Clinton Hollon, who many worried about after he was signed well under slot following an injury-riddled spring, has been promoted to Bluefield, along with intriguing shortstop prospect Franklin Barreto.
“I’ll be very interested to see what the corresponding moves in Bluefield might be,” Ross writes, “because Barreto will be displacing Dawel Lugo at shortstop, meaning Lugo will either be moving to his eventual home of 3rd, and Mitch Nay would go to Vancouver. Or perhaps Lugo will be the one getting promoted.”
Hollon, too, is intriguing, and he’s pitched well a pro so far:
— Clinton Hollon (@_TRUjays) August 13, 2013
Yes, he retweeted that himself– and who the hell wouldn’t be proud of that line?
Last week Baseball Prospectus provided a scouting report on him in an “Eyewitness Accounts” piece, giving future grades of 65, 60, and 60 on his fastball, slider and knuckle-curve (!), labeling him potentially a solid closer or a third starter (with a high amount of risk), and concluding the report on him thusly:
Hollon doesn’t have the idealsize you look for in a starter, but he has the pitches to do it. There were some pre-draft elbow issues that seem to be behind him now. He possesses a decent four pitch arsenal that will only get better with more seasoning and growth. His style and mound presence will allow him some role flexibility down the road. He has a plan of attack that looks to be pretty advanced for his age and he executes that plan well. Developing the changeup into a legitimate offering will be key to his future role with the organization.
I can handle that.
Zach Mortimer’s Minor League Update today at BP checks in on Deck McGuire, among others, and… it’s Deck McGuire-y. “I’ve seen McGuire multiple times in person, and I’ve actually never been impressed,” he writes. “His entire arsenal is, for lack of a better word, ‘soft.’ ”
Better things from BP come by way of today’s What Scouts Are Saying, where this gem from a scout on Marcus Stroman is delivered our way: “One of the most inspiring minor league pitching performances I’ve seen this year. He’s very athletic on the mound and attacks hitters, shows three plus pitches and plus command. The concerns over the durability are legitimate…go back the last 25 years and you won’t find a right-hander his size that’s been a starter in the league for longer than three years. That said, he seems to feed off those questions and I love guys with a chip on their shoulder. He could compete in the big leagues right now.” [Note: nice!]
At Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith runs down a list of seven call-up candidates for the Jays, as we all start looking towards September and the expanding of rosters. One of his picks, Kevin Pillar, was called up at pretty much exactly the same time he posted the piece.
Blue Jays Blackboard pivots off a Twitter debate between me and Mike Wilner last night– which I think maybe comes off more contentious than I intended, presumably because I was wickedly Chevy Chased*– and tries to make sense of Anthony Gose and his nearly 3,000 plate appearances as a pro of not really hitting so much.
Jared Macdonald of Jays Prospects– who, unlike a lot of stat line scouts out there (or copy-and-paste scouts *COUGH*), goes out and sees all kinds of prospects in the Jays system and knows what the hell he’s talking about– gives us the low down on Alberto Tirado, among others, in a lengthy report from Bluefield. Great stuff.
Here are the other Jays-related items from the Keith Law chat I promised I’d bookend this one with back at the top of the post.
Keith, thoughts on the promotion and outlook of Nicolino? Doesn’t really seem to have swing and miss stuff
Changeup is an out pitch. Great command and feel. Might end up a league-average starter.
Snydergaard ceiling? Ace potential?
I see more of a mid-rotation guy with the lack of an average or better breaking ball.
Where would Tyler Beede have gone in this year’s draft had he been eligible?
Maybe back of the first round again.
So… that’s not really all so bad, is it?
* I’ve never heard it either, but who am I to mistrust the BBC?