Nate Pearson, the #1 prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system, is poised for a breakout year which should see his name under the bright lights of the Rogers Centre some time this summer.
Over the past twenty years, Toronto Blue Jays fans have had a few pitching prospects that they had to patiently wait for as they progressed through the minor league system, such as Roy Halladay, Aaron Sanchez, and Marcus Stroman (among others).
To the casual fan, they might not know who Nate Pearson is, but to many amongst the Blue Jays fandom, they have waited a few years for the hard throwing right-hander.
Drafted in the 2017 Amateur Draft, the first-round pitcher out of Central Florida Community College would sign a $2.45 million dollar signing bonus (the Blue Jays had two first round picks) and would spend the majority of his first professional year with the Vancouver Canadiens in the Class A- league.
In 2018, Nate Pearson would hit the injured list for most of the season, as he was hit with a come-backer to the mound during his first start of the season, fracturing the ulna in his pitching arm.
It was 2019 that was the turning point for Pearson, as he would progress through three different levels of the farm system, finishing the year with the AAA Buffalo Bisons, one stop short of the MLB.
Now, the chance that we won’t be seeing Nate Pearson on the opening day roster is quite high, meaning fans will most likely have to wait a few months before seeing Pearson take the mound in the Rogers Centre.
What makes Nate Pearson so special is his dominating stature on the mound, where he stands 6’6 with a bulky frame, and an electric fastball that can routinely hit 98-100 MPH. While Pearson’s fastball is outstanding in its own right, he also possesses nasty secondary pitches in a changeup, slider and downward curveball, which keeps hitters second guessing.
His slider is his best secondary pitch, which hits in the 86-89 MPH range, and is a fantastic off-speed difference when you have a follow up fastball hitting around 100 MPH. His curveball has even less gas at 80-85 MPH range, and with the hard downward rotation he spins on it, it routinely has hitters swinging and missing. The combination of the difference in speed as well as the spin he creates with his slider and curve make Pearson dominating on the mound.
The one minor hiccup in Nate Pearsons game is his command, in that the fastball and his curveball can get away from him when he is ahead of the count. Instead of being on just the outside of the corner of the plate, they will be a little farther off target and won’t make the hitter swing the bat (too far off the plate). This is a minor fix in the Pearson system, mostly because the speed he has on the fastball and the spin on his secondary pitches still creates the swing and miss in the minor league level, but may need fine tuning against the best hitters in the major leagues come later this year.
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The Toronto Blue Jays have been pretty conservative with their star prospect as well, as Pearson hasn’t thrown many innings in the minor leagues due to the injury in 2018. The most he has thrown was last year, where across three levels of baseball he racked up 101.2 innings pitched. Considering major league starters are destined for 30-33 starts a season (barring injury), as Scott Mitchell mentions, the Toronto Blue Jays will continue to be cautious with their prize prospect and will most likely limit his innings during his first few years in the league to avoid fatigue and injury. Considering the Toronto Blue Jays are still rebuilding and shouldn’t be playoff contenders next year (at least), innings limits are not necessarily a bad thing for Pearson’s first few seasons.
The reason Nate Pearson has so much hype surrounding his name is because he can be the potential future ace of this squad. He has electric stuff in his right arm and he keeps hitters guessing with the speed of the fastball and break on the secondary pitches. If he can pitch deep into games, the 23-year-old has the full potential to be the #1 starter on the Toronto Blue Jays in the next few years, a squad that hasn’t really had a bonafide ace really since Roy Halladay left in 2009.
While fans may not be so patient and start chanting his name in the first weeks of April, it wouldn’t be a far off conclusion that Nate Pearson arrives North of the border sometime around June/July area.