The Blue Jays have one of the more exciting pitching prospects in the minor leagues in Nate Pearson. Just how high is the 22 year old’s ceiling?
With the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and more set to take over the lineup in the next couple of years, it’s easy to forget about some of the solid pitching prospects in the Blue Jays’ stable.
There’s Ryan Borucki, who impressed in 17 starts with the Blue Jays and looks like he’s set to grab a rotation job for the foreseeable future. There’s also Eric Pardinho, who is still just 17 years old and is already grabbing headlines by striking out grown men as a teenager. However, the best of them might be Nate Pearson.
The 22 year old year missed a big chunk of the 2018 season after getting hurt in his first pro start. Unfortunately he took a come-backer off of his pitching arm and ended up having to miss the rest of the season at A+. As a result he ended up taking a spot in the Arizona Fall League, and thankfully he was healthy and showed why he was taken in the first round of last year’s draft.
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The numbers don’t tell the whole story, as his 6.64 ERA paints the picture of a struggling young starter. His 1.770 WHIP could use some work as well, and he was a little bit wild, giving up 13 free passes in 20.1 innings of work. However, anyone who was watching him pitch knows that there were some definite signs of future star potential.
For example in his final AFL outing, Pearson was outstanding as he struck out two and gave up two walks in five innings. He was also pretty solid in his AFL “Fall Stars” appearance, impressing scouts and fans alike by topping out at 104 miles per hour on the radar gun. He’s a little ways from pitching in the big leagues, but there is no denying the raw talent.
In fact, he might have been the most impressive pitcher in the Arizona Fall League, at least according to Mike Rosenbaum of www.mlb.com. Rosenbaum hits the nail on the head by pointing out that Pearson was playing catch up against the rest of his competition, as he hadn’t seen game action since his injury in the year’s first start. However, as the short season progressed it was clear that Pearson was getting more comfortable with his pitches, and harnessing the potential in his electric right arm.
"” ….. he showed the highest ceiling of any pitcher I saw this fall.”"
There were other elite pitching prospects competition in the AFL, including Forrest Whitley of the Houston Astros, who is currently the #7 ranked prospect in the game by MLB pipeline, and the top pitcher. While Whitley displayed the stuff that has put him in that position on the prospect board, it won’t be long before Pearson is in a similar boat.
He’ll likely need to have a few healthy seasons of minor league experience, and there’s a good chance he starts back in High-A where he was supposed to pitch in 2018. However, with the talent and huge arm that he clearly possesses, I don’t expect that he’ll take a long path to the big leagues.
The Blue Jays will likely take their time with him, and that makes a lot of sense. He’ll need to build up his arm strength in order to handle the rigours of a big league season, and so far he’s thrown a grand total of 21.1 innings as a professional. However, when you have the raw ability to throw up to 104 MPH on the radar gun and show potential with secondary pitches, it’s a little easier to be patient knowing the pay off could be great.
With the Blue Jays at the beginning stages of a rebuild though, Pearson’s timeline could work nicely alongside his fellow elite organizational prospects. There are no guarantees that any of these guys become stars at the highest level, but right now it feels like the Blue Jays are building something special, and Pearson should be a big part of it.