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Pipeline Q&A: Blue Jays' Nate Pearson

MLB.com

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Blue Jays camp, it was Toronto's No. 4 prospect, Nate Pearson.

The Blue Jays drafted Pearson with the second of their two first-round picks in 2017, selecting him No. 28 overall out of JC of Central Florida and signing him for $2,452,900. After dominating in the JuCo ranks, Pearson was even more impressive in his pro debut with Class A Short Season Vancouver, posting a 0.95 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP over 19 innings (seven starts), with 24 strikeouts and a .097 opponents' average. That success carried over into the postseason for the hard-throwing righty as he helped lead the Canadians to a Northwest League title.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Blue Jays camp, it was Toronto's No. 4 prospect, Nate Pearson.

The Blue Jays drafted Pearson with the second of their two first-round picks in 2017, selecting him No. 28 overall out of JC of Central Florida and signing him for $2,452,900. After dominating in the JuCo ranks, Pearson was even more impressive in his pro debut with Class A Short Season Vancouver, posting a 0.95 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP over 19 innings (seven starts), with 24 strikeouts and a .097 opponents' average. That success carried over into the postseason for the hard-throwing righty as he helped lead the Canadians to a Northwest League title.

MLB Pipeline: So you pitched out of the bullpen as a Florida International freshman before transferring to JC of Central Florida. What led to that decision, and in terms of your development and maturation process, how important was that one year of JuCo ball?

• Blue Jays camp report

Nate Pearson: There were more opportunities for me in JuCo. I was going to become Draft-eligible a full year earlier than if I had stayed at FIU. I also wanted to go to an elite Division I program and was set to go to LSU after my JuCo year, so I completed that goal I had for myself. I learned a lot about my mechanics and my arm -- learned all the specific arm-care stuff that I do -- at JuCo. I learned how to start and get quality starts, become more of a pitcher and not just a thrower and develop my pitches in quality pitches.

:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::

MLB Pipeline: You had what became a legendary pre-Draft bullpen session in which you hit 102 mph on the radar gun. What do you remember from that day, and did you realize at the time that you were throwing so hard?

Pearson: My agent set that whole thing up, it was his idea. It was pretty risky, honestly, because if I'd thrown poorly it wouldn't have been a good look for scouts. That was my only pre-Draft workout for all teams -- I didn't do a workout for any one team. My JuCo season ended early and I had a little over a month off until the Division I seasons ended and before the Draft, so I used that time to train a little more and get stronger, basically preparing for just that bullpen. So when we did it in Lakeland, I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand well, and it obviously was cool to see those numbers up there.

MLB Pipeline: So tell me about Draft day. What was your reaction when the Blue Jays made you a first-round pick?

Pearson: It was a dream come true, something I can't describe. I had all my family and friends over watching the Draft. I didn't know exactly when I would be picked, but I knew it could be the first round. To hear my name get called was truly a dream come true, something I've worked for since I was a little kid. It was great to see it live, hear my name called on TV.

MLB Pipeline: You dominated during your pro debut and helped pitch Class A Short Season Vancouver to a Northwest League title. In your opinion, what enabled you to make such a successful transition to pro ball?

Pearson: I just tried to be who I am. I'm a hard-throwing starter and I just try to embrace while working on my other pitches and fine-tuning them. I didn't really change my game plan, just attacked hitters the same way and had success with it. Being on that Vancouver team helped a lot, too, because we had a lot of positive guys there, great teammates. I can't imagine any better way to start my pro career than to win a championship with those guys.

MLB Pipeline: As you prepare for your first full season, what are some things that you're working on? Any specific parts of your game that you're addressing, any goals?

Pearson: This offseason I focused on getting my body in the best shape for Spring Training and to prolong my year. I don't want to run out of gas too early; I want to remain healthy all season. I also want to fine-tune my pitches, master my craft, you could say. My goal is to have four plus pitches, which is pretty hard to do, but it's a goal I have for myself. I want to work on all of my pitches together, not just one or a couple.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Toronto Blue Jays