With Chase Anderson out with injury before the season began, we anticipated an early call-up of Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Nate Pearson, ranked as the #17th overall fantasy baseball prospect and #6 SP prospect by the Pitcher List dynasty team.
Entering 2020, there was plenty of hype surrounding Pearson. His arsenal outlined triple-digit fastball velocity paired with a plus-plus slider that gracefully nailed the outside corner to right-handers. He has a solid changeup as well, creating a formidable arsenal worthy of the top prospect label. These are things you want from a prospect pitcher.
We had a quick glimpse of Pearson during his exhibition game last week, sporting spotty command and a mid 90s fastball – a bit underwhelming, though it was still summer camp and not the real thing.
I was hoping for upper 90s velocity, some excellent sliders, and improved overall command.
Here is what I saw.
Pearson’s first pitch was a 95 mph heater and I’m a little sad to see it:
In general, opening debuts come with increased velocity, fueled by the adrenaline of the outing and we know Pearson can hit triple digits. I want to see electricity.
He nailed the inside corner for 0-1, sailed a 97 mph pitch north for ball one (phew), then dropped this doozy of a slider:
Absolutely gorgeous. Bottom of the zone, vicious break, and over a 10 mph difference. This is going to work.
He ended the at-bat with another slider – a little worse than the previous one, but it landed in the zone and forced an awkward whiff from Turner. Good, not explosive, but good:
Pearson fell behind to his first left-handed batter following Turner. After missing high at 97 mph to Adam Eaton, Pearson missed with a back-door slider, then a pair of heaters sailed up-and-away for easy takes. A four-pitch walk.
There could easily be nerves at play here as Pearson was flailing open and not staying closed for long enough with his front shoulder. He returned to form with his next pitch though, this 0-0 slider to Asdrubal Cabrera:
I don’t blame you Cabrera, that’s absolute filth. Pearson went back to the pitch at 0-1, and bounced it in the dirt, possibly alarmed that Adam Eaton had a great jump and coasted into second base.
At 1-1, I expected Pearson to paint the outside corner with a fastball, which he did…at 94 mph with a bit of elevation and it led to a foul out of play. I’m not thrilled about that relatively low velocity – this is supposed to be plus-plus heat!
Pearson fired another fastball, this time at 96 mph and fouled off on the third-base side again. Another slider followed, this one getting a ton of the plate on the inner half, but Cabrera could only dribble it to first base. It’s a really good breaking ball, but without proper fastball command (and lessened velocity) it’ll be a struggle for Pearson.
Next was a poor opening pitch to Eric Thames with another missed heater, but the 1-0 offering was the best fastball I’d seen so far:
Much more focused…