Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 128 of 286. For the first 100, click here.
Jake Robert Norton is a 6’4″, 190 lb. right-handed pitcher from Waxahachie, Texas. Waxahachie has called itself home to six former major leaguers, but only Paul Richards made much of an impact, and that was over 70 years ago. The town could use another source of major league pride, and Norton could fit the bill.
Norton started his collegiate career with the North Texas Lions in 2017, a Junior College outfit in the NTJCAC. The club went 25-28 through the year, with Norton pitching in 14 contests, all in relief. He struck out 75 in 63 innings, a 10.66 K/9 rate. Unfortunately, he also pitched to a 1.77 WHIP, allowing 34 walks and 78 hits. He went 3-6 with a 5.26 ERA. Follow Norton on Twitter @jaketwentyfive. It’s a little dated, but here’s Norton pitching with his high school alma mater, Waxahachie.
In 2018, Norton joined the Jacks of Steven F. Austin University, a Division I team from the Southland Conference. The team went 17-36, and Norton, with his 1.48 WHIP, actually ranked second on the team. He’s the only player from the group to play professional ball as of the present. Norton started in seven of his 12 appearances, striking out 29 in 33 2/3 innings of work. He gave up 18 earned runs on 27 hits and 22 walks to finish 2-2 with one save and a 4.81 ERA.
After that season, the Miami Marlins chose Norton in the 32nd round of the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft. Selected 957th overall, Norton joins a fraternity that has had only two members graduate as far as the majors. Chad Bradford (1994, Chicago White Sox, 10.1 career WAR) and Eric Eckenstahler (1999, Detroit Tigers, 0.3 WAR).
After his selection, Norton signed with the Miami Marlins for a $10,000 bonus. He reported to the rookie-level, Florida-based GCL Marlins in the Gulf Coast League on June 27th.
On August 12th, Norton made his professional debut in a 6-4 victory against the GCL Nationals. He relieved Dakota Bennett (more on him on December 22nd) in the sixth inning with a 5-0 lead over the GCL Nationals. Caldioli Sanfler reached base on an error then stole second. Norton then walked Jesus Morales, and got Wilmer Perez to ground into a force play. With runners on the corners, Anderson Franco singled into right field to score Sanfler, then Anthony Peroni singled to load the bases, and Ronaldy Sosa scored Perez on a force out. Not the best first impression, but Norton wasn’t charged with an earned run, and the Marlins won, 6-4.
Three days later, Norton came in to pitch the fourth inning of a game the Marlins trailed, 3-1 to the GCL Astros. After drilling Freudis Nova with a pitch and allowing him to steal second, Deury Carrasco flew into a 7-3 double play, and Rhandall Sanchez grounded out. The Marlins ended up winning that game, 10-6 with a five-run ninth inning.
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On August 18th, Norton walked three in 2/3 of an inning in a 6-3 win against the GCL Mets. Six days later, he appeared in his final contest of the season, taking the loss in a 6-5 setback to the GCL Cardinals. Norton got Jhon Torres to ground out, then struck out Ivan Herrera. He then walked Terry Fuller, who got to third base on a Keegan Fish throwing error and a passed ball. Norton then hit Zack Gahagan by a pitch, and Gahagan stole second. Norton then uncorked a wild pitch to score Fuller. William Jimenez was called out on strikes, but the damage was done.
The GCL Marlins posted a 25-31 record, and although Norton wasn’t great by any means, they were 3-1 in games in which he pitched. Already 22-years-old, Norton may start out the 2019 campaign with the GCL Marlins or maybe with the short-season-A Batavia Muckdogs in the New York-Penn League. The best case scenario for him would include his improving his walk totals and getting promoted through the system, resulting in a Spring Training trial sometime around 2022.
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