Daniel Norris, once a top prospect in the Blue Jays organization and a headlining piece of the monumental David Price blockbuster, has been working in the Dominican Republic this offseason with the hopes of effectively returning to the big leagues with the Detroit Tigers.
When the Blue Jays first dealt hotshot young hurler Daniel Norris to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for David Price, many, myself included, were abundantly skeptical of the true value of the trade in question. At the time, Norris had been a prized piece of the Blue Jays shallow farm system. A second-round pick in 2011, Norris quickly rose to the top of the prospects list, reaching as high as 25th overall and first in the Blue Jays system.
He stunned Double-A hitters and seemed poised to have a consistent, lengthy major league career with the boys in blue. At least, that was the plan.
Following the trade to Detroit, misfortune fell heavily on the native of Johnson City, Tennessee. Injuries, inconsistencies, and a tremendously somber thyroid cancer diagnosis in October 2015 derailed a once promising career. Now, he’s doing all he can to get back to baseball.
According to Emily Waldon of the Athletic, Norris made a strong showing in the Dominican League, where he’s spending parts of the winter pitching for the Aguilas Cibaenas, a team that also includes Washington Nationals super-prospect Victor Robles and Minnesota Twins DH Kennys Vargas.
On October 19th, Norris went 5.2 shutout innings, striking out five and walking three while allowing just one hit, per Waldon. For the winter season, he’s pitched to a solid 0.90 ERA over ten frames, striking out a total of nine in two starts.
In addition to the work he’s getting with the Dominican League, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports that Norris will be the joining other MLB players on a tour of Japan in November. Norris said the following about the Japanese and Dominican experiences he’ll be having this winter:
“Coming back from surgery, I just wasn’t able to really throw for a long time, so I’m still ironing things out. I’m feeling a lot of progress. This is just continuing that. I’ll still have enough time off to train. It was pretty much a no-brainer, honestly. It’s a really awesome opportunity [to go on the Japan tour], and it kind of came out of nowhere. I was really excited about it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Norris is not currently ranked on Detroit’s top 30 prospects. This season, split between the Tigers’ major league squad, Triple-A, High-A and rookie affiliates, he tossed 46 innings, striking out 68 and walking 24.
Regardless of how far Norris gets in his rehab, it’s good to see him back in baseball. An eccentric individual who once lived in his van, Norris was, for all intents and purposes, a good guy to cheer for. In fact, even after he left the Blue Jays organization, he still had a ton of fans north of the border.
With that said, I’m wishing Daniel Norris the best of luck. While his prospect status will never return to the height that it was prior to the trade, it’s great to see someone overcome obstacles and make a career out of playing the game they love.