Toronto Blue Jays prospect Kelly Norris-Jones will play his final year of collegiate level summer baseball with the Victoria HarbourCats.
The former Victoria Mariners catcher is entering his junior (third) year with the Illinois Fighting Illini after missing the majority of the 2013 NCAA season with a concussion.
Last week Norris-Jones and two more B.C. boys, Nanaimo’s Griffin Andreychuk and Surrey’s Nick Rutchkyj committed to the play for the HarbourCats in the 2014 West Coast League.
“I wanted to come here, it will be my last year of college summer ball and I’ve never played in front of this (Royal Athletic Park) crowd before,” said Norris-Jones, who’s acquired a Bull Durhham-type midwestern baseball accent.
“I followed the HarbourCats while I was playing with Green Bay in the Northwoods League last summer and they were ranked 11th (at one point) among the national summer basketball teams. That’s what I want, to play on a ranked team and have a chance at winning a championship.”
When the HarbourCats season comes to and end Norris-Jones will return to the Illni for his final NCAA season.
“I’ll have to bring it everyday in Victoria, I can’t slack. Hopefully I can show everyone I can do it, and hopefully I can go on to play pro ball, that’s the dream.
The 22-year-old is the oldest of seven siblings in Victoria and won the 2010 B.C. Premier Baseball League championship with the Victoria Mariners with Austin Russell, who played with the HarbourCats in 2013. His father, Brad, is the HarbourCats marketing executive Brad Norris-Jones. Kelly says it’s no big deal as the two never collided the last time Brad was involved with Kelly’s team, as president of the premier Mariners.
“My dad is really supportive and he doesn’t get in the way, he won’t mix baseball and work, he just encourages me and doesn’t get on me about my game,” Kelly said. “We never collided.”
The Toronto Blue Jays selected Norris-Jones in the 50th round of the 2010 draft.
Andreychuk is an infielder from Nanaimo who plays for Seattle University and Nick Rutchkyj is an outfielder from Surrey who plays for Cuesta College out of San Luis Obispo, Calif.
The 2014 HarbourCats’ season begins on the road, June 6 against the Kelowna Falcons, with the home-opener on June 10 against the Cowlitz Black Bears at Royal Athletic Park.