Anthopoulos: Norris could help Jays this year

Daniel Norris delivers during the second inning of the All-Star Futures game (Jeff Roberson/AP)

While Alex Anthopoulos stops short of saying Daniel Norris will definitely be promoted to the MLB level, the Toronto Blue Jays general manager hinted that his top pitching prospect will arrive in Toronto before long.

After a dominant debut start at triple-A, the big leagues are within reach for the 21-year-old left-hander.

“No doubt we could see him,” Anthopoulos told Mike Wilner and Ben Ennis on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “That was definitely part of the plan of having him moved up. He’s earned it. I mean, he’s pitched incredibly well.”

Alex Anthopoulos joins Mike Wilner and Ben Ennis

Norris has pitched at three levels this year, ascending from Class A Dunedin to double-A New Hampshire and, now, triple-A Buffalo. He has made 22 total starts, posting a 2.25 ERA in 108 innings with 135 strikeouts against just 36 walks. He whiffed 10 in his Buffalo debut while allowing just two hits, and will start again Friday.

Norris, who’s not currently on Toronto’s 40-man roster, could follow the same path as fellow pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez and debut in relief.

“Hopefully he continues to have success, and if he does, we may convert him to the bullpen by the end of the month and see if he could be a factor for us in September,” Anthopoulos said. “If not and he still has some growing pains and needs to adjust to the level, we’ll just leave him as a starter, let him end the year there and bring him to spring training with us.”

Once rosters expand in September the Blue Jays will expand their pitching staff to add depth for manager John Gibbons. They don’t have a clear sixth starter after trading Liam Hendriks, so if a need were to emerge, Norris could get consideration along with MLB relievers Aaron Sanchez, Chad Jenkins and Todd Redmond.

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Anthopoulos said Norris was one of three Blue Jays prospects to enjoy breakout seasons, joining outfielder Dalton Pompey and right-handed pitcher Miguel Castro.

Pompey, a speedy Canadian outfielder, made the Futures Game along with Norris this summer, but Castro has yet to become a household name. The hard-throwing starter stands 6-foot-5 and has posted a 2.75 ERA for Toronto’s Class A Vancouver and Lansing affiliates in 2014. With 62 strikeouts, 41 hits allowed and 22 walks in 59 innings, his stuff is translating to results.

NOTES: The Blue Jays are looking forward to the return of Edwin Encarnacion, but won’t announce a corresponding move until Friday afternoon… The Blue Jays are willing to cut loose players who are out of options, and Anthopoulos acknowledged watching Juan Francisco can be frustrating. “There’s a lot of swing and miss to his game and that’s certainly hard to watch at times,” the GM said. Still, the Blue Jays like Francisco’s power… The Blue Jays have made waiver claims that haven’t led anywhere this month and don’t expect to make a trade today.

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