Not long after learning he would join Henry Owens and Mookie Betts in next month’s All-Star Futures Game, Daniel Norris shut down the Portland Sea Dogs.
A left-handed pitching prospect for the Toronto Blue Jays, Norris struck out 10 and held the Sea Dogs to three hits in 52/3 innings Tuesday as the New Hampshire Fisher Cats won 5-1 before 4,168 on a breezy night at Hadlock Field.
“He’s a quality pitcher,” said Sea Dogs Manager Billy McMillon. “We just couldn’t get anything going.”
Matt Newman homered and drove in two runs for the Fisher Cats, who are scheduled to face Owens Wednesday night in the finale of the three-game series.
Kenny Wilson and Jonathan Jones each tripled as New Hampshire jumped to a 4-0 lead in the fourth off right-hander Mike McCarthy (6-3), summoned from the bullpen to make a spot start in place of a resting Keith Couch. The Fisher Cats outhit the Sea Dogs 10-4.
Tuesday’s game was the second Double-A start for Norris (1-0), a second-round pick out of a Tennessee high school in 2011 who received a $2 million bonus to turn pro rather than enroll at Clemson.
He threw 60 of 89 pitches for strikes Tuesday, walking three and yielding three singles.
He has yet to lose a decision this season in either the Florida State League (6-0 in 13 starts) or the Eastern League.
Norris spent part of his bonus on a new car. Well, not exactly new. Actually, his 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia camper van (nicknamed Shaggy) is 15 years older than he is.
“My baby,” Norris calls it. “It’s functional and I can live in it and camp in it and stuff.”
Indeed, he lived in the van for more than a month prior to spring training this year, and even splurged on a pickup truck for his father, a ’68 Volkswagen built on the same platform as the van, but with a flatbed that can haul the mountain bikes his dad repairs from a shop that has been in the family for two generations.
“I grew up on mountain bikes,” said Norris, who has also hiked portions of the Appalachian Trail. “We love the outdoors.”
The Sea Dogs have been shut out only once at Hadlock this season. They scored in the sixth without benefit of a hit. Two walks from Norris and a third from reliever Tyler Ybarra loaded the bases for David Chester, who drove in his 11th run in his 11th game with the Sea Dogs by taking a pitch off the pants.
Ybarra escaped further trouble by inducing a Keury De La Cruz groundout to strand three. Against Norris, the Sea Dogs never put a runner as far as third base and frequently swung at pitches in the dirt.
“He was locating his fastball, locating pretty much everything he has,” said Derrick Chung, who has caught every Norris start this season, both for Class A Dunedin (Fla.) and New Hampshire. “And when he does that, not too many people are going to touch it.”
NOTES: Owens and Betts are the only Red Sox prospects on the Futures roster announced Tuesday afternoon for the 16th annual event, to be held in Minneapolis July 13 – two days before the Major League All-Star Game.
Owens is 9-3 with a 1.99 ERA and has allowed only two earned runs in seven starts since May 14. Betts hit .355 in 54 games with the Sea Dogs and led the league in hits (76) and runs (56) before earning a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he entered Tuesday’s game with a .321 batting average.
Of the 13 previous Sea Dogs selected to play in the Futures Game, 10 have gone on to play in the big leagues: Garin Cecchini, Will Middlebrooks, Junichi Tazawa, Clay Buchholz, Hanley Ramirez, Juan Perez, Jorge De La Rosa, Kevin Youkilis, A.J. Burnett and Pablo Ozuna.
The three who have yet to reach the majors are still playing pro baseball. Edgar Martinez (2006) is pitching for Oaxaca in the Mexican League, Anthony Ranaudo (2013) for Pawtucket and Chih-Hsien Chiang (2011) plays for Double-A Bowie.
Kennedy McMillon, daughter of the Sea Dogs manager, celebrated her 13th birthday Tuesday by singing the national anthem prior to the game.