With their second pick of the 2017 MLB draft, selecting at #28 overall (in compensation for the Cleveland Indians’ signing Edwin Encarnacion in the offseason) the Blue Jays chose right-handed pitcher Nate Pearson out of the Junior College of Central Florida.
Pearson started with Florida International University and had a solid freshman season, tossing 33 1/3 innings with a 2.70 ERA and 33 strikeouts with just 12 walks. Pearson is noted for his big velocity on his fastball that has hit triple digits (and has been graded a 70 grade by MLB) but he’s not noted for his breaking stuff. Jonathan Mayo thinks that he’s going to be a bullpen arm rather than a starter and could have a bigger impact sooner that way.
As a starter, Pearson’s fastball was sitting at 93-94 mph, touching 97 and was showing “late running or sinking movement” according to Baseball America. Pearson threw 81 innings as a starter for Central Florida, striking out 118 batters and walking just 23 while posting a 1.56 ERA in 2017. Scouts have noted some arm injury problems with Pearson, since he has a screw put in his pitching elbow in high school, but he hasn’t had any injuries since going to college.
At 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, Pearson has probably developed physically as much as he will, especially since he’s been throwing over 100 mph in games but for him, the development is going to be focusing on his secondary pitches as he struggles to find something that will help him get professional hitters out at the highest levels. He throws a slider and a curveball but both have been called inconsistent, as has his changeup.
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