Daniel Norris got a chance to watch a couple of big league veterans do their thing on Friday night. The experience, combined with his own stellar performance, could hasten his ascent to Toronto.
The Blue Jays' No. 4 prospect tossed five one-hit innings in his Florida State League debut as Class A Advanced Dunedin blanked visiting Clearwater, 3-0.
Norris (1-0) walked two batters and struck out one. He kept the Threshers out of the hit column until Bob Stumpo singled with one out in the fifth. Norris got the next batter, Jose Mojica, to bounce into a double play that ended the inning and his night.
"I threw a changeup down, I felt like I threw my pitch," he said of Stumpo's hit. "Good hitter. He fought stuff off and put the ball into play."
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for the 2011 second-round pick to overcome was the change in conditions.
"Tonight, it was kind of different going from the weather in Lansing to here; it's muggy and humid here," Norris said. "In the first inning, I wasn't really prepared for that. I told my buddy, [Aaron] Sanchez, I haven't sweated that much in a long time."
After Norris exited, four relievers combined on four hitless innings to complete the Blue Jays' ninth shutout of the season and second in as many games. After going 1-7 with a 4.20 ERA in 23 games for the Lugnuts, he was surprised to find himself anchoring a one-hitter.
"Oh, gosh, I had no idea that was going to happen," the 20-year-old left-hander said. "It was a really cool experience. I was very excited and blessed to have this opportunity."
Norris made a special effort to watch two of those relievers, Dustin McGowan and American League All-Star Steve Delabar, complete their innings. It was a prime chance for the Tennessee native to observe how two Major Leaguers work.
"That was a really cool experience," he said. "I really wanted to hurry out and see those guys throw. The trainer was like, 'You can stay in the clubhouse,' and I was like, 'Nah.' Fastball command is the main thing. Command the heater and then they can put guys away with the off-speed [stuff]."
Norris was less than happy with his own fastball command but felt it improved as he worked deeper into the game.
"As the game went on, it got better," he said. "I was throwing fastballs through the first three innings. I think I threw two off-speed pitches in the first two innings."
After McGowan and Delabar threw perfect sixth and seventh innings, respectively, Tony Davis struck out one in the eighth before Dustin Antolin worked around a walk in the ninth for his second save.
Derrick Chung, Matt Newman and Mike Crouse each plated a run for Dunedin.