Nate Pearson has had a dominant season in the minor leagues and was rewarded with a spot in the 2019 Futures Game which takes place over the All-Star break.
When people talk about the future of the Toronto Blue Jays, 95% of the conversation is directed towards their strong crop of position players throughout their system.
That should change in the near future, and there’s an argument that it should have already by now based on the season that Nate Pearson is having in the minors.
The powerful right-hander started his season in High-A and completely overmatched his competition, pitching to a 0.86 ERA in six starts and 21 innings, striking out a ridiculous 35 batters against just three walks. For a guy who had made a grand total of nine starts as a professional before this season had begun, things couldn’t have started much better.
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His dominance quickly earned him a promotion to Double-A to join the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and he’s continued to perform at a high level against the next rung of competition. Through eight starts he is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA, and 0.900 WHIP, and 31 strikeouts against just five walks.
Add it all up and Pearson has turned enough heads this year that he was selected to participate in the MLB Futures game, which takes place over the All-Star break. Many of baseball’s greatest players have participated in the contest, as it’s a great showcase for the top minor league players in baseball, and Pearson definitely qualifies.
The 22-year-old might be dominating on the mound and moving quickly up the organizational ladder, but I don’t think Blue Jays fans should get their hopes up that we’ll see him in Toronto this season, even if there’s a good argument that he could already be one of their best five starting pitchers. That said, he’s only made 23 starts in his pro career, mostly because he missed the bulk of last season when he broke his arm after being hit by a comebacker in his first start. The Blue Jays are going to want to make sure they develop him properly and build up his arm strength before he makes that final leap.
I don’t think it’s a reach to expect their top pitching prospect to make his debut sometime in 2020 though. He’s already shown that he can handle Double-A hitters in a small sample size, and if he keeps this up then I suspect he’ll get a crack at Triple-A before the year is out as well. Something tells me his 103 MPH fastball should translate just fine, especially if he maintains the control he’s displayed.
The Blue Jays could definitely use a few more premium arms in their minor league system, but the presence of Pearson has to give Ross Atkins and company some optimistic feelings about the future. You don’t find arms like this every day, and the rest of baseball will get to see him on full display in the Futures Game.