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June 25, 2014

BP Top 50

Daniel Norris vs. Jose Berrios

by Nick J. Faleris, Chris King and Jeff Moore

Other BP Top 50 Debates

The Rules
Rather than re-printing the BP Prospect Team Midseason Top 50 debates—much of which involves discussion of multiple players at the same time—we thought it would be interesting to call out some of the more interesting pairings among players in consideration for the #BPTop50 and allow an advocate for each to make his case for why that player should be ranked ahead of the other.

In each case, the BP Prospect Team member advocating on behalf of a prospect may or may not ultimately prefer that prospect, but in any event has agreed to argue that prospect’s case for purposes of this series. It’s a good reminder that the differences in value between players on these rankings is sometimes quite small, and in most cases a strong case can be made for ranking players in any number of combinations.

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19 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Kyle Matte

As a Blue Jays fan I'm obviously a homer in favor of Norris, but I think both prospects are very deserving of the top 50. Big fan of Berrios.

Jun 25, 2014 05:26 AM
rating: 0

One thing I noticed is that, while their A+ stats look very similar, Berrios was matching Norris while averaging almost an inning more per start. Given that he's younger and that endurance was potentially a knock against him, doesn't that really give him the edge?

Jun 25, 2014 07:11 AM
rating: 4
BP staff member Nick Faleris
BP staff

I think that's a great point and would be interested to hear Chris King's thoughts on that. One thing to keep in mind is that Toronto tends to be conservative with their young arms, as far as innings are concerned. The Low-A club out of Lansing often piggybacks with the young arms in particular. As Norris was a couple years younger than the other starters on the team, it wouldn't shock me if his innings-per-start were more a product of org treatment than an indication he didn't have the ability to go deeper into those starts.

At the same time, if we are going to question Berrios's value based on durability concerns, it certainly seems like fair game to point out Berrios is logging more innings per start, regardless of the reason.

Great post!

Jun 25, 2014 07:25 AM

It should be also noted that Norris (Dunedin) played in a significantly more hitter-friendly park than Berrios (Ft. Myers) does in the FSL.

Jul 04, 2014 00:25 AM
rating: 0

Mark me down as spoiled by all the amazing prospect coverage you guys produce, but I'm kind of surprised this didn't include pitch grades (present and future) and OFP. Seems like part of the equation.

Jun 25, 2014 09:17 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Nick Faleris
BP staff

I thought Chris and Jeff did a pretty good job of sharing their grades for the pitchers and their general future projections. That said, I'll try to pay more attention to it as we finish the rest of our moderated debates. Thanks for the feedback!

Jun 25, 2014 12:01 PM

Seems like size and the concerns that accompany that is the main issue with Berrios' profile. Any sense on how he compares with some of the other short, hard throwing righties that have come up in the past year or two like Gray, Stroman, Ventura and Salazar?

Jun 25, 2014 11:21 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jeff Moore
BP staff

All of these guys kind of fall into the same category, and there is a stigma that goes along with small pitchers. We're seeing that stigma fade away to a certain extent, especially with right-handers, but it's still there. In Berrios' case, however, it's a real concern because he wore down last year. I believe it was just because it was his first time throwing that many innings in a season more so than because of his size. The velocity comes easy and doesn't require much effort, so I think he'll be able to sustain it.

Jun 25, 2014 12:18 PM
BP staff member Nick Faleris
BP staff

To add on to that, I saw Gray twice late in the summer while he was in college throwing for Team USA. In each case he looked the same as he did earlier in the spring, showing big, loud stuff and holding velocity late. That was after throwing in game action from February through July.

As Jeff points out, Berrios's knock is tied to actual evidence of tiring and trouble holding up to a long pro season. I think you'll be able to note when the winds have change have blown evaluators away from small body bias once we see that characteristic cease to negatively impact amateurs and their draft slot/bonuses.

Jun 25, 2014 12:38 PM

If you've ever stood next to Berrios, you can see he is a very athletic kid. He's got a stockier build than you might think and is very muscular. That said, he's more like 5'10" than 6'. To me, the build of the pitcher is more important than height. As Doug Thorburn and Paul Sporer have showed us, downhill plane is often overrated as well. I think the durability concerns will go away as he logs more innings. I'm also encouraged, because when I saw him at Cedar Rapids, he was 90-92 with fringe command. Now he's 93-95 with good command and sharper off-speed stuff. The improvements are really, really exciting.

Jun 25, 2014 12:47 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I honestly don't see how downhill plane can be overrated in this context. I think it's a highly important attribute for a pitcher to possess.

Jun 25, 2014 13:20 PM
BP staff member Nick Faleris
BP staff

Without question. It's all about limiting pitch plane and swing plane overlap.

Jun 25, 2014 13:27 PM

In his chat today Keith Law stated that Berrios not only has little downward plane on his fastball, but also throws it very straight. He wouldn't be written about so glowingly here if you guys agreed with both statements, correct?

Jun 26, 2014 17:28 PM
rating: 1

I didn't articulate that correctly. What Doug has pointed out is that height can be overrated in a pitcher's ability to create downhill plane (not that downhill plane isn't important). He showed that some shorter pitchers find ways to create downhill plane while some tall pitchers eliminate some of their advantage of plane in their deliveries. Essentially, height doesn't tell us everything.

What I should have said to articulate better is that as far as durability, Berrios' height isn't as important as his athletic/muscular build. And as far as downhill plane, it may be difficult to know how much of a disadvantage Berrios has in that area without doing an in-depth study of his delivery. Doug gave a good example in Yordano's ability to get solid downhill plane despite being shorter than ideal height.

Jun 25, 2014 13:40 PM
rating: 2
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying. I agree.

Jun 25, 2014 13:56 PM
BP staff member Jeff Moore
BP staff

In that regard, I think Berrios is closer to Ventura than he is to a guy like Marcus Stroman when it comes to generating downward plane. It hasn't been an overwhelming issue when I've seen him.

Jun 25, 2014 15:55 PM
Jeff Evans

Berrios is a member of the Twins organization, who like to move even their best projects sloooowwwly up the ladder. If they move a guy up fast, it means he's probably gonna blow our doors off.

Jun 25, 2014 18:07 PM
rating: 0

Admitted Twins homer but as I read in a local article, not to long ago, Berrios didn't pitch a ton leading up to the draft. With that info shouldn't it be expected that he wears down in his first full season? Shouldn't the end of this year be more of an indication of his stamina?

Jun 26, 2014 07:47 AM
rating: 0

Now that we can look back at July and August what is the verdict on whether Berrios held up? His K/9 rate dipped in AA and his BB rate went up but opposing BA was about the same.
He made the midseason Top 50 -- did his 2nd half keep him there?

Sep 12, 2014 08:49 AM
rating: 0
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