Daniel Norris moved one step closer to his ultimate goal Sunday, and at the same time, rewarded Toronto's faith in him.
The Blue Jays' top prospect matched a career high with 10 strikeouts while allowing two hits over six innings in his Triple-A debut as Buffalo blanked Durham, 3-0.
After his start was pushed back a day due to a rainout, Norris faced one over the minimum for the Bisons. The 21-year-old left-hander allowed only a single to Justin Christian in the second inning and a single to Wil Myers in the fourth. Norris, who walked one, threw 51 of his 82 pitches for strikes.
"Throwing to Mike Nickeas, I knew going into it he was a guy well respected behind the dish," Norris said. "So I said, 'Whatever you put down, I'm not going to shake you off.' It shows me that it's all about execution, no matter what pitch they put down, you have to execute.
"I got a few [strikeouts] on the slider, quite a few on the changeup and a couple on the fastball. The curveball has been the go-to pitch the last three or four outings, but I wasn't spinning it too well today."
Norris was promoted to the International League after going 3-1 with a 4.54 ERA in eight starts for Double-A New Hampshire. The Tennessee native wasn't nervous about his debut, despite a contingent of family and friends sitting in the stands of Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
"I was just really anxious," Norris said. "My mom and dad and my sister and her family were there. My best friend and his family were there and some of my old ball coaches were there. People who haven't seen me throw in years, so it was nice to go out there and show them all the hard work I put in."
The 2011 second-round pick has accelerated through the Toronto system this year, going from the Florida State League to the International League. Along the way, he's garnered Florida State League All-Star honors and been chosen to pitch in the Futures Game while compiling a 10-1 record with a 2.25 ERA in 22 starts across three levels.
"Obviously I'm appreciative of the opportunity," Norris said. "At the same time, I'm just not satisfied yet. I always tell myself never settle, never be satisfied. There's an ultimate goal, and whenever that happens, I don't think I'll be satisfied. That's the mentality that I have, that you can always do better.
"For them to have faith in me to put me at this level, I'm very appreciative of it. They've done a great job with my development. They've been very patient with me and I love the Blue Jays organization."
Jared Goedert and Jonathan Diaz hit RBI doubles in the fifth while Kevin Pillar slugged a solo homer in the sixth for the Bisons.
Myers, who fractured his right wrist on May 30, went 1-for-3 in his first rehab appearance for the Bulls.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.