David Laurila, the Fangraphs resident Q&A master had a chance to catch up with Toronto Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris. They discussed his early career struggles, recent progress, injury troubles and how he likes to approach pitching. It is worth a read, here are some highlights:
Norris on dealing with adversity: “To be completely honest, I try not to think about it. I say ‘try,’ because it’s almost inevitable that you do. But I just try to go pitch-by-pitch, game-by-game. That’s a cliché, but it’s the way you have to approach it. You need to have a short memory.
“I’ve definitely had my ups-and-downs, starting last season in Bluefield, I’d never experienced that kind of failure. 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.”
On the reasons behind his struggles: “I think a lot of it has been lack of command. I have to stay focused. My pitching coach this year, Vince Horsman, told me, ‘It doesn’t matter how hard you throw; if you’re up in the zone, you’re going to get hit.’ For me, it’s a matter of focusing down in the zone and getting ahead of guys, attacking guys.
On his repertoire and velocity: “I throw a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a changeup, a slider, and a curveball. I came to pro ball with all of those pitches. The slider was new to me. I developed it my senior year of high school and now it’s one of my put-away pitches. I’ve worked hard on refining it.
My fastball, before I went on the DL [with forearm soreness] was 93-95, and I’ve been up 96-97. Since then, I’ve mostly been 92-95.
“I think velocity is important to my game. I’m a fastball pitcher. I pitch off my fastball and velocity helps you get ahead of guys. And not that you want to pitch up in the zone, but sometimes you can get away with a few more mistakes when you throw harder.
On continuing his development: “Going out there and pitching, more and more, is the main thing. It’s a learning experience. The more innings I’m getting, the more comfortable I’m getting. I’m not foolish. I know there are going to be more bad outings. It’s a matter of building confidence each time I’m out there, and feeling the ball come out of my hand.