Throughout the 2017-18 offseason, Fish Stripes is taking the time to get to know some of our most interesting prospects. Today’s subject, John Lindsay Norwood, is a free-agent signee of the Marlins, and our current #30 prospect.
Norwood, a 6’1”, 185 lb. outfielder from Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey, was born on September 24th, 1992. He was selected in the 12th round of the 2011 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, with the 379th choice off the board after playing his prep ball at Seton Hall Preparatory School. He decided not to sign as a pro, and ended up playing three seasons with the Vanderbilt University Commodores. As a junior, he slashed .298/.368/.404 over 68 appearances, with 17 stolen bases and 32 RBI. After going undrafted, the Marlins signed him through free agency on August 7th, 2014.
Per mlb.com’s prospect pipeline:
Norwood is best remembered for hitting the game-winning home run that propelled Vanderbilt to its first-ever College World Series title in 2014:
He went undrafted in June but performed well during the summer in the Cape Cod League before signing with the Marlins for $275,000. He's since made a steady climb through the Marlins' system, highlighted by an All-Star campaign in the Double-A Southern League in 2017.
Norwood generates big pull-side raw power with his strong core and quick bat. He sells out for it too often, though, pulling off the ball with a long swing that limits his use of the opposite field and results in too many strikeouts. Norwood also has issues recognizing spin, but there's little doubt he can turn around a good fastball.
An above-average runner, Norwood's speed translates better in the outfield than on the basepaths. He's capable of playing center field in a pinch but profiles better at an outfield corner. Norwood's right-handed power could make him an option off the bench in the big leagues, but he'll first need to show he can make adjustments against upper-level pitchers.
Norwood immediately joined the Batavia Muckdogs in the short-season-A New York-Penn League, where he lined up in center field, wore the number 23 jersey, and batted third, fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth in the order. Out of his 20 appearances, all starts, he registered six multi-hit games. On August 30th, he collected two singles, a triple, and two RBI in a 15-inning, 12-11 loss to the State College Spikes. His abbreviated time at the low-A level resulted in a sample size which would prove too small to be predictive of future performance, a .256/.284/.295 slashline, and 25 strikeouts in only 81 plate appearances.
Norwood began the 2015 campaign in Greensboro with the Grasshoppers in the “A” class South Atlantic League, where he wore uniform #27. In 120 contests, he slashed a disappointing .233/.304/.392 over 499 plate appearances, whiffing 113 times but blasting 16 home runs and stealing 34 bases. Defensively, he played all three outfield positions totaling just over 1000 innings, mostly in right, where he finished with a perfect fielding percentage over 173 chances, including nine assists and three double plays. Norwood posted 22 multihit games during his time in the SALLY league, including June 16th, when he batted eighth and hit a grand slam in the fourth and a two-run shot in the seventh for six RBI in a 12-4 Hoppers win over the Greenville Drive.
Normal progression would see Norwood join the Jupiter Hammerheads in the high-A Florida State League in 2016, and wear the #22 he still sports to this day. He didn’t disappoint, with a solid season at the plate to the tune of a .271/.347/.397 slashline. He collected nine round-trippers and 50 RBI in 127 games, with 116 strikeouts in 531 plate appearances. On the flip side, he racked up a .970 fielding percentage in center field, with seven errors in 231 chances. Norwood had more than one hit on 32 occasions through the season. On June 29th, he batted third and finished with a single, a double, and a homer for four RBI in a 6-2 Sharks win over the Bradenton Marauders. Here’s a kid doing a better job at interviewing than me:
Norwood would find himself as part of the double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp at the start of the 2017 season, again wearing #22 and lining up as the starting right fielder. Despite his appearance being at the highest designation of his career, he set career-highs in most offensive categories, slashing .285/.367/.459 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI in 135 contests. He struck out 134 times and drew 59 walks, totaling 40 extra base hits and 34 multi-hit games. On August 31st, he hit third for the Shrimp and collected three RBI on a home run and a triple, leading them to a 5-2 win against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. He finished the season with 10 outfield assists, three double plays, and a .975 fielding percentage.
Going into 2018, Norwood is slated to join the New Orleans Baby Cakes, although with the picture at the top of Miami’s extended depth chart belonging to (to be determined), anything is possible.