A closer look at the rise and fall of former Blue Jays top prospect Nate Pearson

Taking a look at Nate Pearson's historical timeline with the Blue Jays and how he got to where he is today, and what we can expect from him in the future
Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers, Nate Pearson
Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers, Nate Pearson / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages
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“What could have been?” is probably the notion that comes to mind when it comes to Nate Pearson and his tumultuous career with the Toronto Blue Jays. The once-promising prospect taken in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft had the potential to become the next Roy Halladay with exceptional strikeout ability, but unfortunately it has not come to fruition. So what has happened to Pearson and his supposedly limitless potential?

Here, we take a closer look back at the rise and fall of the now former top prospect of the Jays’ organization.

Rapid ascension through the minor leagues

With his impressive accolades leading up to the 2017 MLB Draft, the Jays gladly selected Pearson out of the College of Central Florida with their first round pick. In short order, Pearson would get his first taste of professional baseball coming right out of the draft as he joined the Bluefield Blue Jays of the Jays’ Rookie affiliate. He pitched in one game before he was subsequently promoted to the Jays Low-A affiliate Vancouver Canadians where he officially began his growth and development in the organization. Armed with a plus-fastball that could hit triple digits and with a scouting grade of 80, it was believed that Pearson could utilize his blistering pitch to full advantage in fast-tracking to the major leagues in due time. He certainly impressed during his first minor league season, as he ended up posting a spectacular 0.90 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, giving up only two earned runs with five walks and 26 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched in total.

Everything appeared to be going as planned for Pearson as in 2018, he was already elevated to High-A to start the season with the Dunedin Blue Jays. However, that was when the string of unfortunate injuries began to rear its head over his career. A fractured forearm as a result of a line drive put Pearson out for the year after just 1.2 innings into the season. No one knew at the time that he would encounter more injury troubles down the road and just attributed this one to bad luck.

It sure looked great for him the following season, as Pearson appeared to be back and strong as ever, as he ascended through three minor league levels and eventually reached Triple-A Buffalo by the end of the season. 2019 also marked the year in which he has pitched the most innings in his career to date, as he went 5-4 with an impressive 2.30 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, giving up 26 earned runs, 27 walks and a whopping 119 strikeouts over 101.2 innings of work. He definitely appeared ready for prime time sooner rather than later. With that, Pearson would end up being ranked among the top 10 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list in the following two years, with his potential seemingly limitless at this point.