In our next look at a former Valley League player who is now in professional baseball, we have the huge 6-foot-6, 245-pound righthander Nate Pearson! (By the way, if you want to read the series, see the links in the banner at the top of the page.)
Nate, who threw in one game for the Staunton Braves in 2016, has made some waves already because of his explosive fastball… and first round picks get more attention as a general rule, anyway.
Nate is currently Toronto’s #7 prospect according to mlb.com, while Baseball America (behind a paywall) has him pegged at #4. Let’s take a look at how things have gone in Nate’s short career thus far….
- 2016 college season at Florida International: 1-1, 2.70 in 19 games (1 start) and 33 1/3 innings, along with a 1.41 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, and 8.9 K/9.
- Came to Staunton that summer, but threw in only one game- in which he struck out 6 batters in 5 innings (and walked 4).
- Nate then transferred to the College of Central Florida, where he completely dominated. He went 5-2, 1.56 in 13 starts and 81 innings, with a 1.02 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and 13.1 K/9. The biggest splash, however, was in May, when he hit triple digits on a radar gun during a bullpen session. He was “suddenly” on everyone’s radar…. and…
- Was drafted in the first round, #28 overall, by the Toronto Blue Jays. He became the first former VBL player drafted in the first round since Cory Spangenberg was popped 10th overall by the Padres in 2010. The Blue Jays gave him a $2,452,900 bonus (wow!), and assigned him to the Gulf Coast League, where…..
- He pitched in one game, striking out 2 batters in 1 inning. He was moved up to Vancouver of the Northwest League, where he….
- Went 0-0, 0.95 in 7 starts and 19 innings, with a 0.58 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, and 11.4 K/9. The Blue Jays were handling him very carefully, as Nate does have a history of injuries.
This is what mlb.com has to say about Nate:
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 50 | Curveball: 45 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
Pearson put up video-game type numbers at JC of Central Florida this spring, raising his Draft profile in the process, then created a huge amount of buzz by hitting triple digits consistently in a bullpen session in late May. The Blue Jays drafted him with the second of their two picks in the first round, then signed the flame-throwing righty for slightly above slot value at $2,452,900.
There is no question about the quality of Pearson’s fastball coming from his 6-foot-6 frame. He was consistently up to 97 mph all spring and has shown an ability to throw strikes with it as well. His secondary stuff, however, has been inconsistent. He throws both a slider and a curve, though the latter is his fourth pitch, and on some days he has two distinct, effective breaking balls. At other times, they run together, and it might serve him well to focus on just one at the next level. His changeup has improved, but it also comes and goes.
There is an injury history with Pearson — he had a screw put in his right elbow in high school — but he was nothing but healthy and durable in junior college. There’s some debate over whether his future lies in the rotation or out of the bullpen, where his stuff would play up, but the Blue Jays feel that Pearson has all the ingredients needed to become an impact starter.
“All the ingredients needed to become an impact starter.” Awesome! ATVL will be following along, of course!