Blue Jays phenom pitcher Nate Pearson has had an electric Spring Training thus far. But, does he need more time in the Minors before he becomes a full time Major Leaguer. Let’s take a look.
Nate Pearson’s Spring
The 23-year old right-handed pitcher has been nothing short of spectacular this far in Spring Training. Across three outings (5.0 IP) this spring, Pearson has struck out nine batters and has yet to give up a hit. Pearson has walked two batters in Spring Training so far, but that’s it. The Jays’ top prospect has outperformed several other pitchers competing for spots on the Opening Day roster, including LHP Anthony Kay (12.46 ERA, 5:5 K/BB, 2.54 WHIP in 4.1 IP (3 G)) and RHP prospect T.J. Zeuch (14.54 ERA, 2:5 K/BB, 2.54 WHIP in 4.1 IP (3 G)).
Pearson’s stuff already can beat MLB hitters, and his spring thus far is proof of that. Pearson’s fastball consistently sits in the high-90’s with life, and the Florida native also possesses a lethal slider. And if you won’t believe me, just look at how he beats Pirates first baseman Josh Bell with a hard fastball:
Nate Pearson: 🔥 & ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/JB00R4M7Wz
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 1, 2020
Pearson has proven already that he can pitch in the Majors. The righty has the stuff and the command to do so, but is now the right time to unleash Pearson on the American League. Yes, but also no. Let me explain.
Why Pearson Shouldn’t Start with the Jays
There’s a couple of reasons why the Jays should consider keeping Pearson down in the Minors to start the year. One reason is obvious: the service time clock. But besides that, Pearson could use some additional time in the Minors to work on his secondary stuff. Besides the fastball and the slider, Pearson also utilized a changeup and a curveball, both of which have the potential to grade out to be at least average offering. Pearson reportedly made big gains with the feel for his change last year, and the pitch has some sink to it. Oh, and did I mention that sits in the high-80’s to low-90’s.
Another Nate Pearson video from today's outing – the Pirates announcers were baffled by Pearson's 89 MPH changeup, which might qualify as a fastball for other pitchers. pic.twitter.com/IGFYRE0dnF
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) March 1, 2020
However, one thing to keep in mind is that his change and curve are still behind his fastball and slider. A little extra time with Buffalo (AAA) could allow him to further work on his secondary pitches so that he can effectively mix four pitches in the Majors.
Pearson also has missed significant playing time throughout his baseball career thanks to injuries. Pearson needed screws put into his elbow in high school after fracturing a growth plate in his right elbow in high school, and injuries kept him out for portions of 2018 and 2019. The 23-year old has missed a lot of time on the mound, and for the Blue Jays, it might be best for Pearson to at least start in the Minors to make sure he gets in more experience before heading to the Show.
Why Pearson Should Start With the Jays
For one, Pearson is earning a spot this spring. Even though Pearson has thrown just five innings this spring, the 23-year old has stymied hitters this spring, and if Pearson can perform just as good once the Jays ramp him up for longer outings, it’s going to be really tough to keep him down.
Second, Pearson’s stuff can beat hitters right now. Sure, some more refinement couldn’t hurt. But, Pearson’s fastball has the potential to be one of the best in the game right now, thanks to the velocity and movement he gets on the pitch, and the same could be said for his slider. Pearson’s stuff right now isn’t just good, but it’s well above-average. And with the spring he’s having, he may just force the Jays’ hand.
What I Think Will Happen
While the temptation may be there, I ultimately believe Pearson will head to Buffalo to start the year. Pearson may be able to contribute now in the Majors, but the Jays’ rebuilding process is paramount at the moment. Keeping the 23-year old down in the Minors to start the year will give the Blue Jays an extra year of control, and gives Pearson some additional time for refinement.
It might not be the decision that fans of the Blue Jays want, nor the one Pearson wants, but it might be the right move for a team that’s looking towards the future, and not so much the present.
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