Daniel Norris' 2014 season was one to remember. His offseason, however, is starting off on a much more sour note.
The Blue Jays announced that their top prospect underwent anthroscopic surgery on his left elbow Tuesday morning "to remove bone spurs and loose bodies." The 21-year-old left-handed starter's recovery time is expected to be about six weeks, a span that won't likely keep him from fully participating in the 2015 Spring Training.
Norris broke out in a big way in the Minors this past season, during which he rose from Class A Advanced Dunedin in April all the way to the Majors with Toronto by season's end. The 6-foot-2 southpaw went 12-2 with a 2.53 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 26 appearances (25 starts) across Dunedin, Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo. His 163 strikeouts ranked fifth-most among all Minor Leaguers.
Thanks to those numbers, the 2011 second-rounder, who has a 60-grade fastball and changeup along with a slider and curveball in his arsenal, was recognized in a multitude of ways for his efforts. He was selected to represent the US at the All-Star Futures Game in Minnesota, where he threw one scoreless inning in a 3-2 win over the World squad, and climbed to his current spot at No. 25 in MLB.com's overall ranking of prospects.
The biggest honor, however, came when the Blue Jays brought him up for the first time when rosters expanded in September. He made five appearances (one start) for Toronto, posting a 5.40 ERA with four strikeouts and five walks in 6 2/3 innings during that time. He did note, after his first Major League start on Sept. 25, that he felt he had lost some velocity toward the end of the season.
"It's obvious that my stuff isn't there," Norris told MLB.com. "It's tough to try to pitch without your stuff, but sometimes that's the competitor that has to come out and I think that's what I tried to do ... go out and compete without your big guns."
Given the apparent elbow injury, it should be noted that his 131 1/3 innings pitched this season between the Minors and Majors is by far the most he's thrown as a professional, besting the 90 2/3 he threw across two levels in 2013.
Norris will likely start the 2015 campaign -- his age-22 season -- at Triple-A Buffalo but could contend for a Major League rotation spot out of Spring Training.
Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SamDykstraMiLB.