I like this kid.
Reading through this interview with him by John Klima, there's a lot to like. He's a competitive kid, he seems like he loves baseball, so he's got the makeup you want out of a high draft pick. Oh, and that bit about learning his new changeup from Kris Benson and that it's Pedro Martinez' grip. Yeah, that sold me.
I can see why scouts may not like him, though. His delivery is not normal. It's fairly simple, but it's arm-heavy. It's not a high-effort delivery, but I'm sure some scouts would get scared off by the arm whip across his body. Me, I see that being a plus for him (assuming it doesn't lead to injury), because the way his arm comes through seems to hide the ball for a split second longer. That's enough to throw off the timing for left-handed batters, especially.
He's also been reported to have inconsistent velocity and control this spring. If anything drops him out of the first round, that'll be it. Plus, his commitment to Clemson will scare some teams off. If he goes to college, he'll immediately jump to the top of the 2014 draft class. As it is, he might be one of the most successful high school pitchers in this draft (if not for a pair of Oklahoma kids).
With his deceptive delivery, I bet Norris could definitely find work as a left-handed specialist, even if his fastball doesn't sit any higher than 89-90. That's not what you want to spend a first-round pick on, but he's got all the earmarks of being able to make the big leagues quickly. If his breaking pitches don't work out, that bullpen spot is a nice fallback.
It's easy to see why teams could have projected Norris into the first round. His ceiling is pretty high, though not quite an ace. However, if his changeup is as good as advertised with a fastball in the low to mid-90's, I could see Norris having a career somewhere between J.A. Happ and Johan Santana.
Will thepick him? If so, where?
Houston has shown a penchant for taking projectable cold-weather arms in the past. Tennessee isn't quite the cold climate of an Illinois, but Norris even admitted it hindered his fastball velocity early in the season from time to time. So, maybe the Astros feel more comfortable with his flaws, chalking them up to the climate. It still seems like No. 11 will be too high for Norris, especially if other high school arms like Archie Bradley and Taylor Guerrieri are still on the board. I doubt Norris lasts to the second round, so it looks like this is just not a match meant to be.
Where is he projected to go right now?
Keith Law did not have him in the first round.
Perfect Game USA had him at No. 23 to the Nationals.
Bibliography (Scouting Reports and video)
Below the jump
Norris has shown three potential plus pitches, with a fastball that reaches 96 mph but generally rests in the 89-93 mph range, a curveball and changeup. He throws the changeup with good arm speed and has plenty of hand speed to spin a breaking ball, and he has also toyed with a slider.
Physically projectable HS senior with chance to become 3-pitch ML LHS. Durably built with proper mechanics and loose and easy life. See him as FB, CHG, SL guy with CHG as best weapon. Touched 94 once. Very easy guy to like.