With the 28th overall pick of the 2017 MLB Draft, the Blue Jays selected RHP Nate Pearson, from the College of Central Florida (a junior college). Pearson is another player who had been heavily connected to the Blue Jays, with rumours of a pre-draft agreement after shooting up draft board this spring and particularly this month.
The selling point on Pearson is simple: he's got the best fastball velocity in the draft. In a bullpen session a couple weeks ago, he touched 101 or 102 miles per hour. At 6'6", 245 pounds, he's got the frame to be a starter and if/when he makes it to Toronto Tabler will have a field day with the "big and strong" descriptions.
Why was someone with that kind of rare natural ability available 28th? The principle issue is that he lacks present quality secondary pitches, which is not what you want to see from an almost 21 year old and leads to a potential reliever profile. His slider flashes plus, but it's not consistent. In this regard, Pearson is more like a high school pick, where you're betting on development and future projection (to remain a starter at least) compared to present abilities that get polished in the professional ranks.
He's also has a screw in his elbow that was inserted when he was in high school, but that hasn't been an issue since. He also hasn't demonstrated the truly elite velocity in games, where it's been more of a 70 grade pitch than the 80 grade pitch that triple digit velocity implies.
Out of high school in 2015, Pearson attended Florida International University, posting a 2.70 ERA in 33.1 innings as a reliever with 33 strikeouts and 12 walks. He transferred to Central Florida, where he posted a 1.56 ERA, with 119 strikeouts in 81 innings, overpowering inferior competition.
Pearson continues a trend that emerged in last year's draft, of selecting college players who are more raw and with more upside than is usual the case, such as J.B. Woodman and Joshua Palacios.
Baseball America had a good profile on Pearson in April, including some video.
Pearson hit 101 mph in a workout at the end of May in front of a bunch of scouts, spurring talk he's go in the... https://t.co/24DB73heMT— keithlaw (@keithlaw) June 13, 2017