Nate Pearson Prepared For A Jump in 2018
BRADENTON, Fla. — As Nate Pearson remembers it, his draft stock took off during a pre-draft workout at Lakeland’s Joker Marchant Stadium. He popped the mitt with consistent triple-digit heat that afternoon, and the rest is history.
The Blue Jays took Pearson out of the JC of Central Florida with the 28th overall pick in last year’s draft and signed him to a bonus of $2,542,900. After a one-inning tune-up in the Gulf Coast League, the Jays shipped Pearson to short-season Vancouver, where he dominated.
With the Canadians, Pearson, who did not pitch enough innings to qualify for BA’s Northwest League Top 20 prospects list, went 0-0, 0.95. In 16 innings he allowed just six hits, walked five and whiffed twenty-four. Those figures, however, only account for his innings in the regular season.
Pearson pitched twice more in the NWL postseason, including a four-inning, 10-punchout gem in Game One of the Division Series, and then four more innings of one-run ball to give Vancouver its second win of the Championship Series.
For his efforts, Pearson now has a ring to go along with all his accolades.
"Those things are pretty big and very nice,” he said. "It’s awesome. To be my first year in pro ball and win the championship, there’s nothing like it.”
Part of what has helped Pearson vault into the upper echelon of prospects, not only entering the draft but as a professional, is the way he takes care of his body.
Checking in at No. 91 on BA’s annual Top 100 prospects list, Pearson recently concocted his own workout routine with thorough independent research and suggestions from Driveline Baseball and has already seen immediate results. Pearson even got the chance to meet Driveline Baseball founder Kyle Boddy last year when the Canadians played against Everett during the Northwest League season.
"I kind of did my own research on how to keep my arm healthy and kind of threw together my own routine,” he said. "A lot of coaches taught me some different exercises and I put them all together and made my own little routine."
Number Of Minor League Pitchers Throwing 100 MPH Decreases In 2018
In conversations with scouts and front office officials during the season many of them mentioned seeing less pitchers with top-of-the-scale fastballs than they had seen in other recent seasons.
Instead of sending Pearson to the Midwest League to begin the season, the Blue Jays are jumping their talented righthander to the high Class A Dunedin to begin his first full season of pro ball. His raw stuff would likely dominate lower-level hitters, so instead he’ll be challenged to refine his repertoire and learn the art of sequencing.
"It shows that they have a lot of trust in me,” he said. "In my meeting they said they wanted to challenge me and I’m all about being challenged so it’s going to be a good opportunity for me to start in Dunedin and I can’t wait to get going.”
Those efforts were apparent on Monday afternoon against Pirates minor leaguers. Beyond simply using his upper-90s gas to blow away hitters, he opted at times to pitch backward. In his fourth and final inning he started three of the five hitters he faced with breaking balls.
"(I’ve been working on) mainly offspeed, making sure I throw each of them for strikes every time out,” he said. "Just working to make sure I get consistent action on each one of them.”
He began the other two hitters with fastballs, but neither was the upper-90s, blow-away gas that has become his signature. Instead, both clocked in at 93-94 mph and featured cutting action away from righthanders.
There’s no intent for it to happen that way, but the pitch is effective nonetheless. On Monday it got both swings and misses and induced groundballs.
"I think that’s just natural,” he said. "I’m just trying to attack guys and whichever it comes, it comes out I guess.”