The Toronto Blue Jays have called up highly regarded pitching prospect Daniel Norris, according to Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi. The 21-year-old left-hander will pitch primarily out of the Blue Jays' bullpen over the final month of the season.
Regarded as a mid-first round talent in the loaded 2011 draft class, Norris fell to the second round due to bonus demands, ultimately signing for an above-slot $2 million deal. He scuffled in his first couple professional seasons, watching as his stock cratered to the point that many had written him off as a potential rotation mainstay by midway through last season.
However, after a strong finish to the 2013 season, Norris appears to have turned things around this year, jumping three levels from High-A to the majors, and once again putting himself on the map as a legitimate impact prospect. In 124.2 minor league innings spread across three levels, he posted a 2.53 ERA, 11.8 K/9, and 3.1 BB/9. In their midseason top 50 prospects list, Baseball America ranked him 25th overall, noting the potential for three plus pitches in his fastball, change up, and slider, to go along with a possibly average curveball. Similarly, Baseball Prospectus ranked him 33rd, adding that he is "now consistently tapping into the front-end stuff he'd always teased."
Toronto's plan to use Norris out of the bullpen this month should not come as a surprise. Earlier this year, former first rounder Marcus Stroman started off in the bullpen before moving into the rotation after just five relief appearances. Fellow top prospect Aaron Sanchez has pitched solely out of the bullpen since his July call up, posting a 1.66 ERA and 6.67 K/BB in 21.2 innings over 14 appearances.