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Norris ties career high with 10 strikeouts
Blue Jays left-hander gives Portland fits in second Double-A start
06/24/2014 11:37 PM ET

Based on what he heard heading into his second Double-A start, New Hampshire left-hander Daniel Norris got the impression from teammates that facing Portland would be like challenging the 1927 Yankees.

"I overheard some guys like, 'Yeah, we're about to face Portland, the best hitters in the world,'" Norris said.

Of course, the Sea Dogs hadn't had to deal with Norris before Tuesday night.

The Blue Jays' No. 4 prospect introduced himself emphatically, tying a career high with 10 strikeouts en route to his first Eastern League win in New Hampshire's 5-1 victory.

The Sea Dogs' reputation didn't faze Norris (1-0), who held them to a run on three hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings.

"I'm not big into checking out scouting reports," he said. "If you start thinking too much, you go out on the mound and it's, 'I have to do this and this and this.' I'm all for analyzing stuff, but I just don't necessarily want to give them way too much credit."

The hurler left the planning to backstop Derrick Chung, who switched up the left-hander's modus operandi by working off a fastball-slider attack plan early in the game. Norris said he usually starts games working fastballs and changeups the first time through the order, but thought saving his change and curveball for the later innings worked well Tuesday.

"I saved the change for later in the game," he said. "That was a pretty good out pitch for me. I mixed in some good curves too. Got some swinging strikes. It was a pretty good game. Really well-called game by [Chung]."

It wasn't unusual for all four pitches to be working for Norris. The 21-year-old said he often has all his offerings at his disposal, which distinguishes him from prospects who rely on just two or three pitches per outing.

The start also proved to be a step above his Double-A debut, in which he allowed his first two homers of the season and played a role in a bench-clearing brawl.

"I definitely saw that Double-A hitters have a better approach, a better plan of what they want to do," Norris said. "It's just a matter of getting ahead and trusting your stuff. I think the first game, I showed myself my stuff could miss bats at this level. That made me trust my stuff, and I definitely took that into this game."

Earlier in the day, Norris got the news he'd be representing the Blue Jays on Team USA at the All-Star Futures Game in Minnesota in a few weeks. The left-hander said he was shocked by the announcement.

"I got the call from [Bobby] Meacham, our manager here, and he confirmed it," Norris said. "Then people started tweeting at me. I didn't believe it for a while. I thought it was kind of a joke. It's really cool. I'm really excited."

Jake Seiner is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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