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December 19, 2006

by Fabian

Tim Norton, RHP, 23
Previously Ranked: N/R
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 30th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels 10th (B-)

Physical Ability: Standing 6’5’’ and weighing in at 230 pounds, Tim Norton has the ideal pitcher’s frame. His fastball is almost as impressive as that frame, regularly clocking in the low 90s and touching the mid 90s. It is a heavy sinking fastball that has to this point helped him put up big numbers against wood bats. In addition to that fastball Norton throws a splitter that is at times an average, get me over, pitch and at others a strikeout weapon. The rest of his repertoire is very underdeveloped. He has been playing baseball in cold weather states and only picked the game up in 8th grade. He has no changeup to speak of really and from time to time he tries to mix a slider in, but it’s no good either.

What Happened in ’06: The Yankees drafted Norton in the 7th round to little fanfare. While he had demonstrated a great fastball there were concerns about him in regards to what he possessed beyond that. Apparently for New York Penn League batters, the fastball was enough. Actually, that’s not entirely fair, as his splitter did come along a bit as well. Overall, Norton was just completely dominant. He performed well against left and right-handed batters, striking out tons of guys and keeping the ball on the ground.

What Lies Ahead: Most people would consider me to be an age relative to league Nazi. In that sense, it’s surprising that I have Norton rated as highly as I do. However, when it comes to pitching prospects, I also love strikeouts and groundballs and Norton gets lots of those. I’m also hoping that he’ll be able to move quickly through the system because it’s not as though he is old due to having been stuck in the system for some time. Finally, there’s also the matter that he shouldn’t be viewed in the light of your average 23-year-old pitcher because, as previously noted, he started late. Norton should begin 2007 in the Tampa rotation where I expect him to do very well given his stuff and performance to date.

Grade: Despite the fact that he was just drafted this year, I have a good feeling about Norton’s chances of making it to the majors. His role in the majors is still very much up in the air as he really only has one pitch at the moment. However, all it takes is one great pitch and one serviceable pitch to be at least a solid reliever. Furthermore, if the splitter comes along even more, Norton may be able to make it as a starter. As a starter his ceiling would be a middle of the rotation innings-eater. Another factor that makes Norton an appealing pitcher for me is that his one great pitch is a sinking fastball, which seems to be a great pitch for those of limited repertoire. C+

Christian Garcia #20