Once considered a top prospect in the Blue Jays system, right-hander Nate Pearson is one pitcher Blue Jays fans thought would be the ace of this staff for years to come.
Unfortunately, injuries have hampered the Florida product for most of his career, dating back to his high school days when he had screws put in his arm from previous injuries. While he went undrafted out of high school, some solid years in JUCO and a showcase in front of scouts and executives saw the Blue Jays select Pearson in the first round, 28th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft.
The right-hander was also on the unfortunate side of a comebacker during his first start in the 2018 season, which shattered his ulna bone in his throwing arm and sidelined him for the year. Since then, Pearson has also struggled through other injuries related to his elbow, shoulder, and even a sports hernia, which kept him on the IL and in the minors for most of the 2021 season and relegated him to the bullpen at the end of the season.
This Spring Training, Pearson was fighting for a spot in either the Jays’ bullpen or down in AAA as the next starter in line before mononucleosis sidelined him to begin the year. Once healthy, the 6’6″ flamethrower made five appearances before a lat injury shut him down and kept him off the field over the past couple of months.
Blue Jays pitcher Nate Pearson made his first rehab appearance after suffering a lat injury earlier this year, pitching a clean inning in Single-A.
Fans and Jays media alike have been following his recovery process, from throwing long toss and bullpens to finally getting into some game action yesterday, pitching in Single-A Dunedin against the Tampa Tarpons (New York Yankees affiliate).
The former first-round pick pitched a clean inning, hitting 99 MPH with his fastball and getting the first two batters to fly out and inducing a groundball to the third batter, appearing in just one inning. He threw just ten pitches in total and was able to generate three swinging strikes, mixing in his sinker and fastball while also tossing one cutter and one curveball in the lone inning of work.
This is a great first step in Pearson’s recovery and hopefully, more outings will follow shortly. It is unknown right now what the plan is for the former top prospect and whether the Blue Jays will consider him down the stretch at some point in September, especially if he can find a way to hit the 100 mph mark with his fastball like we have seen him do before.
That type of velocity would bode well in the bullpen with playoff baseball on the horizon and a tough schedule ahead but rushing him is likely not in the plans, and he will have to work his way back to the active roster (with the Jays needing to clear a roster spot since he is on the 60-day IL).
Regardless of whether the Jays plan on using him at some point this season, the bigger picture is that he is healthy down the stretch and is able to log some innings before the season is over.