Pearson assesses his current game, potential

Blue Jays' top prospect offers a scouting report on himself

February 23rd, 2020

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- After the Blue Jays ushered a wealth of young talent into the big leagues last season, all eyes are on who’s next on Toronto’s top prospects list.

After a successful 2019 which saw rack up more than 100 innings for the first time since joining the organization, expectations are higher than ever for the 6-foot-6, 245-pound right-hander. Finishing the year at Triple-A Buffalo, the 23-year-old has the potential to see the Majors only three years after being taken in the first round of the 2017 Draft.

Pitching at three levels last season, Toronto’s No. 1 prospect posted a 2.30 ERA and racked up 119 strikeouts -- walking just 27 -- over 101 2/3 frames. After a comebacker sidelined him with a fractured ulna in his throwing arm in what would have been his first full season in 2018, Pearson was briefly out of commission last season with a groin injury. His innings will be limited as he continues to build up his workload, but his potential is encouraging. And after ending ’19 with the Bisons, he is highly motivated.

“Obviously, it feels pretty good,” Pearson said of being the team’s top prospect. “A lot of people know who you are and everything. But at the end of the day, it’s just a list. You’ve still got to perform and I’m not a big leaguer, yet. I plan on being one, so -- as of right now -- nothing else matters besides getting to the big leagues.”

Evaluating himself using a Major League Scouting Bureau report and the 20-to-80 scouting scale, basing his grades on the standards set by the Bureau, Pearson noted an opportunity to improve his game in all aspects but also where he graded himself at the top of the scale.

Top tools
The Florida native gave himself the highest possible future grades in his fastball velocity, which is an easy 80, as well as his fastball movement, baseball instincts and aggressiveness. He believes his best pitch and his ability to be aggressive go hand in hand and will continue to be well above average as he moves forward.

“I’ve always been an aggressive pitcher,” Pearson said. “I’ve always wanted to attack [hitters] and make them look foolish, and just flat out strike them out. … As I started to throw harder, I started to get more aggressive because I knew guys wouldn’t be able to hit my fastball, so I got really confident throwing it. I was kind of just like, ‘Here it is, I throw pretty hard.’”

Room to improve
Pearson jumped his curveball, changeup, slider, control, poise and instincts all a full grade from where he believes he is presently to where he seems himself in the future, though he thinks by the time he can establish himself in the Majors, his biggest strides will have come with his curve.

“I definitely plan on the curveball being one of my biggest pitches,” he said. “It’s probably my least confident pitch, right now, but I plan in the future to have that up there with my fastball and slider. I definitely use it the least. But this offseason, I was really attacking the curveball, trying to get the right shape and spin efficiency.”

Scouting the scout
Offering insight into his own game and grades, the young hurler knows his point of view may not be shared across the board.

“I know where my stuff lies with me on the grading scale, but obviously everyone has a little bit different opinion and people are going to see things their way,” Pearson said. “But I’m pretty familiar with scouting reports and the scale.”

What the scouts say
“He’s the best pitcher I saw last year in the Minor Leagues,” one professional scout said. “He’s a big horse with a serious power arm and a nasty slider to go with it. He aggressively pounds the strike zone with no fear and is a potential lead dog. I expect to see him in Toronto this season.”

What’s missing
“This report tells you I’m a pretty big and strong, sturdy, well-rounded pitcher who’s only going to get better,” Pearson said. “It’s definitely just missing my drive and how great I want to be. I constantly set goals and achieve them, and that’s how it’s going to be for my whole career.”