Blue Jays: Nate Pearson moving up quick, and back on track

SURPRISE, AZ - OCTOBER 18: Nate Pearson #20 of the Surprise Saguaros and Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the 2018 Arizona Fall League on October 18, 2018 at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
SURPRISE, AZ - OCTOBER 18: Nate Pearson #20 of the Surprise Saguaros and Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the 2018 Arizona Fall League on October 18, 2018 at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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After a 2018 season mostly lost to injury, Nate Pearson is thankful the Blue Jays let him graduate levels quickly last season and get back on track to where he should be.

When the 2018 season began, Nate Pearson had an opportunity to show the Blue Jays and all of baseball why he was a first round pick, and why he would eventually make the team that drafted him looked brilliant compared to the other 27 that passed on him in the first round the year before.

And then, in just the second inning of his first start of the season with the High-A Dunedin Blue Jays, Pearson took a come-backer off of the forearm of his pitching hand, breaking his right ulna bone. As a result, his season with the Dunedin Blue Jays was over almost as quickly as it started. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t make it back to the mound until Arizona Fall League began, which was a blessing to have available so he could get some work in after getting healthy.

It was a frustrating development for the Blue Jays’ top pitching prospect, but especially so because it basically set him back a year in his development and his pursuit of becoming a MLB starter. That said, the 2019 campaign was a healthy one for the now 23-year-old, and he made up for a lot of lost time.

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Pearson started the year back in Dunedin where he had been injured in his debut the year before, and quickly showed that he was far too much for the competition in High-A. He posted a 0.86 ERA over six starts, striking out 35 against just three walks in 21 innings pitched. He was borderline untouchable, and it was obvious he needed to move up a class.

On he went to Double-A and the domination continued as he posted a 2.59 ERA and a 0.989 WHIP across 16 starts with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, striking out 69 against 21 walks over 62.2 innings pitched. It was enough that the Blue Jays felt he had earned a third promotion for the 2019 season, sending him to Buffalo to finish the year in Triple-A with the Bisons. He more than held his own there as well, making three starts, throwing 18 innings and posting a 3.00 ERA and a 0.833 WHIP with 15 strikeouts and three walks.

For the 6’6″ fireballer who is said to touch 104 miles per hour on the radar gun, it was an important year of redemption after being injured, and it was made possible in part because the Blue Jays allowed him to quickly climb their organizational ladder, even if he left them little choice.

Because last season was so successful for the Florida native, there’s almost no doubt that he’ll make his MLB debut at some point during the year ahead. There’s an argument that he could start the year in the Blue Jays’ rotation as one of the best five starters now, but even for those feeling sensitive about service time manipulation, having Pearson begin the year in Triple-A is probably a good thing. It will allow the organization to control his output early in the year, and hopefully bring him up to the big leagues later on without a lot of restrictions. They had him on a rotating schedule of making a two-inning start followed by a full start to begin last year, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did something similar this year.

That’s because he still only has 123.1 professional innings under his belt, and the Blue Jays will want to make sure they protect his golden arm at all costs. However, the fact that he was able to make quick work of three levels last year means he’s no more than a half-season behind where he would have been if he was healthy, if that.

Next. Velocity not a priority for the rotation. dark

It’s a shame that his development was stalled at all, especially by a pretty freak accident, but that will hardly matter after Pearson hits an MLB mound for the first time. After a tremendously successful 2019 season, that day is coming sooner than later.

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