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Norris getting ready for Futures game

June 30th, 2014 10:06 pm by Trey Williams

Norris getting ready for Futures game

Daniel Norris’ stock is rising, and who knows, July could even be filled with Futures trading. 

Norris, a 21-year-old left-handed pitcher from Science Hill, was selected last week to pitch in Major League Baseball’s Futures Game on Sunday, July 13 in Minneapolis. The minor-league showcase will air live on ESPN. 

Hearing the news is high on a list of surreal moments for Norris, whose resume includes a Jackie Robinson Award, Baseball America high school pitcher of the year, Tennessee Gatorade player of the year and a $2-million signing bonus out of high school. 

“I can’t really put in to words how I felt about it,” Norris said. “It was just one of the coolest -- probably the biggest honor I’ve ever received. After I got the call it took me a minute -- I waited probably five minutes before I called mom and dad (David and Sandra) just because, like, I couldn’t really believe it. I was like, man, this has to be a joke, you know. 

“It finally sunk in and I called mom and dad and I got off the phone with them and I just kind of jumped up and down. I was just really happy. It’s a pretty big deal, so I was just very honored to be selected.” 

Norris will be showcasing his skills for teams other than Toronto. Many have already been watching while he’s mowed batters down this season pitching for Dunedin (Florida) and, during his past three starts, the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. 

The Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs have taken a particular interest in the hard-throwing 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, who could be traded in a package deal for someone such as pitcher David Price or Jeff Samardzija. 

“They (Rays, Cubs) are at every game watching everything I do,” Norris said. “And then all my buddies on the team are saying that they read these articles about how they want me and stuff. And it is what it is. I don’t really worry about anything like that, because it’s just out of my control. There’s nothing I can do to control it, so why place my worries or thoughts on it. So just kind of no matter what, I’m gonna go out there and throw a baseball.” 

Still, the notion of being bartered in deals with MLB stars is flattering. 

“It really is, especially with guys like David Price and Jeff Samardzija,” Norris said. “I mean, those are two frontline aces for two teams, and it is very flattering.” 

Norris is 7-0 with a 1.63 ERA this season. He has 101 strikeouts and 24 walks in 82 2/3 innings. He’s given up 60 hits and opponents are batting .203. 

Since his promotion to Double-A, batters are hitting .175 and he’s struck out 25 and walked six in 16 1/3 innings. 

He’s quickly established himself after allowing two home runs in his New Hampshire debut. 

Norris allowed one run in five innings while yielding three hits, two walks and striking out six in his most recent start Sunday. And his voice had an unassuming confidence while being interviewed on the long bus ride from New Britain, Connecticut to Reading, Pennsylvania. 

“Coming up here and facing better hitters, I had to get better,” Norris said. “So I just kind of took that approach. I needed to be better with my command and it’s been playing pretty well so far.” 

Norris has been an avid viewer of the Futures game. 

“Oh yeah, every year I watch it,” he said. “I mean, growing up I definitely watched it, and then recently I’ve watched it because there’s like older guys that I’ve known and just heard about. It’s really cool to see them out there showcasing their skills.” 

Norris said his parents plan to drive to Minneapolis to attend the game at Target Field. 

“Mom probably showed the most emotion,” Norris said. “She’s like, ‘Oh man, that’s great. I’m so happy for you.’ They knew what it meant and they were just extremely happy for me. But at the same time, I think it really symbolizes who we are as people -- just never satisfied in that sense of it. I called my dad and he’s like, ‘I’m proud of you buddy. It’s just another stepping stone.’ 

“It’s really important to think like that, because whenever you feel like you’ve made it is when you stop working. Obviously they’re very happy, but they realize that there’s still work to be done.” 

Norris is without his beloved ‘78 Volkswagen van “Shaggy,” and the surfing enthusiast has given up the Florida Gulf Coast for New England, where he’s living in an apartment with teammates some 90 minutes from the coast. 

“I’m waiting to get my car up here so I can go explore in the mornings or on an off day,” he said. “But right now I’ve just got two feet. So I can’t get too far, you know.” 

At any rate, he’ll certainly be riding a wave of emotion in the Land of 10,000 Lakes on July 13. 

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