Blue Jays Prospect Watch: Nate Pearson
The Toronto Blue Jays are optimistic that their young talent can turn them into a winning organization for the next decade. Recently, the Blue Jays had a plethora of prospects graduate to the Majors led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. However, their top pitching prospect, Nate Pearson, has yet to taste the big leagues.
Pearson, a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher has consistently risen up the prospect ranks in the past couple of years. The general consensus of MLB Scouts has him inside the top ten of their prospect lists. MLB Pipeline has Pearson listed as the eighth overall prospect and the 2nd highest right-handed pitching prospect, only trailing the Detroit Tigers Casey Mize.
Pearson was not as highly respected of a prospect out of high school. He went undrafted and decided to attend Florida International University in 2016. He pitched out of the bullpen there with a 2.70 ERA in 33 1/3 innings while fanning 33 batters. After one year, he decided to transfer to the College of Central Florida.
In a 2018 player Q&A with MLB.com, Pearson describes the impact of his decision to play JuCo ball. “I learned a lot about my mechanics and my arm — learned all the specific arm-care stuff that I do — at JuCo. I learned how to start and get quality starts, become more of a pitcher and not just a thrower, and develop my pitches in quality pitches.”
Minor League Ball
Nate Pearson was selected with the 28th overall pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2017 draft. He maintained a 0.90 ERA in Rookie Ball showing why he was a 1st round draft pick. Unfortunately, during his High A debut for the Dunedin Blue Jays, he was struck by a line drive that fractured his right forearm and sidelined him for the 2018 season. However, that did not stop him and he effortlessly cruised through Arizona Fall League the following year. His 2019 season portrayed his durability by pitching 101 2/3 innings for while striking out 113 batters for three different teams. His 2.30 ERA and 0.89 WHIP was good for third-best in the minors.
Arsenal and Scouting Report
Pearson’s draft stock skyrocketed when his fastball was clocked at 102 MPH in a pre-draft bullpen session. His physicality is the epitome of a power pitcher, standing tall at six-foot-six and weighing 245 pounds. A starting pitcher with a fastball ranging from 98-101 is rare and valuable. Pearson is able to get downward sinking movement on his fastball from being so tall on the mound. In addition, he has an effective slider that sits in the low 80’s that is a pain for hitters on both sides of the plate. His third pitch is a changeup that is improving year-to-year. Lastly, is his curveball that he will throw in to mess with batters occasionally.
On MLB Pipeline’s 20-80 scout rating scale, Pearson is a 65 overall. The only player receiving a higher grade is the top overall prospect, Wander Franco. Pearson’s fastball has a perfect 80 rating, and all of his pitches are above average except his curveball at 50.
Here’s a clip of Pearson boasting his fastball against Josh Bell in Spring Training this year.
Nate Pearson brings the heat against Josh Bell. pic.twitter.com/V6xHGhlOUT
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) March 1, 2020
Nate Pearson cruised up the minor ranks last year starting the season in High A and ending in Triple A. He is very close to coming up and making an impact on an already talented young group of Blue Jays. Toronto is expecting him to be a high-end of the rotation starter for the next decade. His recent invite and appearances in Spring Training has put him one step closer to being able to showcase his unique talents in the middle of the major league rotation.
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