After a long winter of dreaming about both the present and the future of the Blue Jays, it’s understandable if Monday’s game brought a little bit of disappointment based on Pearson and Martin’s first appearances. For Pearson, he struggled to find command of his pitches, throwing just 16 strikes out of 28 pitches during his laboured inning. For Martin, it was a pair of defensive errors that reminded us he’ll need more development before he’s ready to star at the highest level.
And in both cases, that’s more than okay.
As always at this time of year, we need to keep things in perspective. Spring numbers really don’t matter much at all, especially for veteran players. For developing youngsters it’s a little more significant, but early March performances should be taken with a grain of salt.
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First of all, it was just one game, and the first one of the year at that. It takes a while to get into a rhythm for many players, and that’s exactly what the pre-season schedule is for. For example, Pearson got the opportunity to assess where he sits in advance of the season, and more importantly, what he needs to focus on this month. Monday’s outing reinforced that his golden right arm has the “it’ factor, but that he likely needs to continue his focus on his command. That said, chances are good that even if the outing had gone off without a hitch, we’d likely be saying the same thing.
As for Martin, it’s hard not to be excited about the future of the Blue Jays’ first round pick from the 2020 draft. Many scouts had him projected to go either first or second along with Spencer Torkelson, and the Blue Jays were fortunate to see him fall all the way to them with the fifth selection. While I believe that his time in the minor leagues will be brief, I’d still expect him to spend the entire 2021 season in the minor leagues. The biggest reason for that is the need for defensive development, which is something we knew already.
It’s not that Martin projects to be a poor defender at all, it’s more about figuring out where he ultimately belongs on the diamond. He was drafted as a shortstop, but that wasn’t really his primary position during his collegiate career. It’s possible the Blue Jays could look to development him with versatility in mind as well, as he spent time playing shortstop, first, second, and third base, as well as centre and left field during his three years with Vanderbilt University. The 21-year-old likely needs a lot of work to be capable as a MLB-calibre shortstop, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the goal anyway.
The main point is that there’s no point in putting much stock in one spring training performance, even if it wasn’t ideal for either Pearson or Martin. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that in 3-4 weeks that we won’t have many concerns about either of them.