05/18/12 10:00 AM ET
Toronto's Norris does mind extended hours
By Jonathan Mayo and Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
That easily could have been the case for Blue Jays lefty prospect Daniel Norris. A second-round Draft pick a year ago who received an over-slot deal to sign, it wouldn't have surprised anyone had Norris been unhappy about not going to full-season Lansing to start the year.
Yet that's what's impressive about the pitcher considered to be the top prep lefty in the 2011 Draft class. He seems to get that sometimes you need to walk before you can run and in terms of pro baseball, the Blue Jays' No. 5 prospect knew he wasn't even crawling.
"Going into it, a lot of guys say extended stinks, it's just a grind," Norris said. "I was going into it expecting it not to be fun. But I'm having a blast. I'm blessed to wake up and play baseball every day. The days get long, but when you're playing baseball ... I much rather be doing this than anything else."
Norris has been working hard at retooling his delivery. The 19-year-old joked that people who saw him in high school, including his parents, wouldn't even recognize him on the mound now.
"I'm completely different," Norris said. "I feel so much better about that. Being able to repeat and stay on top of the baseball with a downward plane [is important]."
Even if Norris found extended spring to be too much of a grind, he could at least say that misery loves company. Several other young pitchers are there with Norris, toiling away in relative anonymity. No. 12 prospect Joe Musgrove and No. 15 Kevin Comer were both high school arms taken in the sandwich round a year ago. The trio seem to be reaping the benefits of going through this together.
"We pick each other's brains, being able to talk to them and see what they're going through is great," Norris said. "Comer and I are roommates. We're really close. Musgrove's a good guy, too. We talk about our outings, what we're going through."
Eventually, they would like to go through some real games. As much as Norris is enjoying his time in extended camp, the competitor in him is ready to get things going. He's clearly not obsessing over it, but he admitted it's crossed his mind a time or two this spring.
"Absolutely. I'd be lying to you if I wasn't [thinking about it]," Norris said. "I just want to play for something. One-hundred percent, I understand why I'm here. I know this is where I'm supposed to be, but I want to be playing for a championship. But we're young and getting acclimated to pro ball, and I feel like I've made a huge jump in my delivery."
D-backs' Owings nets Player of Week
Chris Owings has always had intriguing tools, with evaluators saying he just needed time for his performance to catch up to his potential.
That might be happening now.
The No. 4 prospect on the D-backs' Top 20 list led the Minors in total bases to earn Prospect Watch Player of the Week honors. Owings had 26 total bases over six games, finishing with a .519/.567/.963 line for the week. He had six extra-base hits (three homers, three doubles).
The Astros' George Springer gets a runner-up nod for hitting four homers in four games for the week, finishing with a .583 average and a 2.393 OPS. All four homers actually came in one day during a doubleheader.
Owings, 20, is now hitting .331 for the year, 11th best in the California League. He's sixth in the league, right behind Springer, with a .571 slugging percentage while he's currently third in home runs with nine.
KC's Dwyer earns Pitcher of Week nod
With the news of Danny Duffy's Tommy John surgery hanging over the organization, the Royals likely could use some positive information from the mound somewhere in the system.
It came in the form of fellow lefty Chris Dwyer, this week's Prospect Watch Pitcher of the Week. Dwyer, No. 7 on the Royals' Top 20 list, appeared in two games and won them both for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He threw a total of 12 innings, allowing just three hits and one earned run. He walked four and struck out 11.
Dwyer came in as a "reliever" behind rehabbing reliever Greg Holland on May 10 and proceeded to throw 6 2/3 no-hit innings. Four pitchers combined on a no-hitter against Springfield. Dwyer struck out five and walked two. The southpaw followed that up with another solid start on May 15, allowing one run on three hits while striking out six over 5 1/3 innings.
Texas prospect Alfaro hopes to return soon
Injured Rangers catching prospect Jorge Alfaro is in a hurry to get back to Class A Hickory, but is making the most of his time in extended spring training at the club's complex in Surprise, Ariz.
Alfaro, ranked No. 7 on the list of Texas' Top 20 prospects, is on the disabled list for the second time this season with a strained hamstring and has started catching bullpen sessions as part of his rehab.
"I'm just trying to get better and get back to the league," Alfaro said. "I am just hoping to get back in two or three weeks. It depends how my rehab goes."
Alfaro, 18, was originally placed on the DL after straining his hamstring on April 12. He returned to action 11 days later and was placed on the DL again after reaggravating his hamstring while running out a triple in his first game back.
Overall, Alfaro is hitting .290 with four RBIs in 31 at-bats in eight games for the Crawdads this year. He hit .300 with six home runs and 23 RBIs for Class A Short Season Spokane last season.
"He's been good here, and from all the reports I hear in Hickory, he has been good," Arizona Rookie League Rangers manager Corey Ragsdale said. "We are looking forward to getting him into games soon, and we are looking forward to watching him swing the bat."
Padres injury bug: The Padres' system has been hit pretty hard lately with a pair of former Rangers hitting the DL. Joe Wieland (No. 7 on the Padres' Top 20) was put on the big league disabled list with a tight elbow. Down in Double-A, Robbie Erlin was shelved, as well. Erlin, the lefty who came with Wieland in last summer's Mike Adams trade, was put on the DL with tendinitis. Right-hander Joe Ross (No. 10) hit the DL with shoulder tightness, and shortstop Jace Peterson (No. 19) was sidelined due to a concussion following an on-field collision with a teammate.
Jonathan Mayo and Jesse Sanchez are reporters for MLB.com. Mayo writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 and @JesseSanchezMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.