Top prospect Pearson to debut today

July 29th, 2020

TORONTO -- One of baseball’s most anticipated debuts is scheduled for Wednesday, when Toronto's No. 1 prospect will make his first MLB start against the Nationals.

Manager Charlie Montoyo announced the decision following the Blue Jays’ 4-1 win over the Nats on Monday.

“The sky is the limit with this kid,” Montoyo said. "I’m really happy he’s getting a chance to pitch.”

Pearson, who is also the No. 8 prospect in all of Major League Baseball per MLB Pipeline, has been with the club on its taxi squad. His debut has long been expected to come at some point this week, but now it’s official. Pearson left no questions that he was ready for the big leagues, but with service time remaining an issue early in the season, it was obviously just a matter of time until he was added.

“Nate doesn’t have to do anything to impress us,” pitching coach Pete Walker said in Summer Camp. “He’s really in a great place right now, and he’s continuing to refine his stuff. He’s got a power arm, as we all know. His secondary stuff is really coming along nicely. He doesn’t have to do anything different than what he’s doing right now."

For most clubs, Pearson’s arrival would be one of the most hyped debuts they’ve seen in years, but this is the 2020 Blue Jays we’re talking about. The arrival of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in '19 was a major moment for the organization, and the subsequent additions of Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette helped turn the page fully to a team that’s no longer just rebuilding, but trying to win.

Pearson’s debut comes as part of a dream pitching matchup, too, as the Nationals will counter with three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. 

“I’m looking forward to matching up with Max Scherzer,” Pearson said. “He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball and a pitcher I looked up to a lot growing up, seeing him around the league. It will be cool to pitch against him and the reigning champs.”

Pearson is the final piece of that prospect puzzle for this specific wave. The next one will start with the likes of 2020 first-round Draft pick Austin Martin and No. 2 prospect Jordan Groshans soon enough, but Pearson’s addition to the rotation is a move that immediately makes the Blue Jays a better ballclub. His Minor League success is more than enough to put him in this position, but Pearson was also the star of Spring Training and carried that into Summer Camp against established big league hitters.

The 6-foot-6 right-hander is best known for his triple-digit fastball, which was still hitting 98 mph recently in an exhibition at Fenway Park despite him not having his best stuff. What makes Pearson one of the game’s top young arms, though, are the breaking balls and changeup that support his heater.

In moving Pearson to Wednesday, the Blue Jays can bump back Hyun Jin Ryu to Thursday, giving him an added day of rest after he threw 97 pitches Friday on Opening Day. Last season, Ryu made just seven of his 29 starts on regular rest. The majority of his starts (14) came on five days of rest, while the other eight came on at least six days of rest.