The Chicago Cubs have selected Saint Louis righthanded pitcher James Norwood in the seventh round of the 2014 MLB Draft.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder was the Billikens’ ace this year, going 8-2 with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP over 15 starts. He hit speeds as high as 97 MPH during fall workouts, but he operated at speeds in the low-to-mid 90s during the spring. There seems to be a legitimate belief among scouts that he can be a starter as a pro, but in order to take better advantage of his outstanding velocity, converting him to relief could be an option down the road.
There was some discrepancy over Norwood’s standing as a prospect preceding the draft. MLB.com had him ranked as the 119th-best player available, but he was much more highly-regarded by Baseball America, which ranked him as the 76th-best overall prospect (and 29th-best right-handed pitcher.) Regardless, he ended up going substantially lower than had been projected by most sources. Since he’s young for his class and still relatively inexperienced, it’s reasonable to think that he can significantly improve as a professional, especially if he zeroes in on a singular breaking pitch to develop. At the same time, some seem to be turned off by the fact that his numbers weren’t more dominant during his junior season.
Here are some highlights from Norwood’s start against Duke this February, courtesy of Baseball America: