As reported by Middle Tennessee Sports Extra and confirmed by a few reliable sources on Twitter, Vanderbilt CWS home run hero John Norwood has signed an unrestricted free agent contract with the Miami Marlins. Just as noted actor/pitcher Freddy Prinze Jr. had done in the summer of 2001, Norwood parlayed a phenomenal summer on the Cape into a minor league deal. Norwood has batted a healthy .324 with power in 18 games in the historic wood bat summer league.
With his remarkable run in the CWS combined with his impressive showing against some of the best talent college baseball has to offer, this signing is only surprising in the sense that we just assumed he would continue his ascendance into the upper echelon of prospects with a great senior year and be a top ten round draft pick next year (like Connor Harrell had done before him).
There's no word yet on how much the Marlins offered Norwood to buy him out of his senior year, but seeing as every team passed over our center fielder for the 50 some odd rounds of this year's MLB draft, there were literally no restrictions on how much they could offer.
Also no word yet on whether he bedded the mannish yet attractive rich girl for whom he mowed lawns.
If you're waiting for even more reliable sources to confirm it, this is probably not going to happen, as undrafted free agent signings almost never make the news, even when they involve your favorite players.
In fact, without a tweet by Matt Schneidman, the beat reporter for the Cotuit Kettleers - the Cape Cod League team Norwood had been playing for this summer - we probably wouldn't have found out about this for weeks:
John Norwood has signed a free agent contract with the Miami Marlins, a source confirms. @Official_CCBL
This will be about all you're going to get news-wise, but it was retweeted by the ever-reliable @VUHawkTalk, Tennessean writer Maurice Patton, and presumably any number of webcam models trying to drive web traffic with pictures of their anuses (because this is the world we live in now).
While this certainly negatively affects our team's prospects for a National title defense, we will have a high level prospect to replace him. Jeren Kendall, a 5 star CF prospect out of Wisconsin, will presumably be our man in the middle, flanked by Rhett "The Natural" Wiseman and Bryan "The Aluminum Foil" Reynolds.
Kendall has elite speed and a fantastic arm. According to scouts, he has an above average hit tool, but little power due to his slight frame. We'll definitely lose the middle of the order power threat that Norwood became late in the season, but we'll likely replace him with a top of the order speedster who can cover the entire outfield by himself and will force runners to think twice about taking that extra base. While it's next to impossible to project how the freshman will perform out of the gate - remember, very few players start their college careers white-hot like Bryan Reynolds - the Wisconsin speedster has been compared to players like Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.
For John Norwood, we wish you the best as you begin your career with the Batavia Muckdogs or some other such nonsense, and start the long slog towards the show.
For Jeren Kendall, you just grab that brownish area by its points and you don't let go no matter what your mom says.