Nathan Alexander Pearson
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 6", Weight 245 lb.
- School Florida International University, Central Florida Community College
- High School Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School
- Debut July 29, 2020
Pitcher Nate Pearson was the 28th player selected in the 2017 amateur draft, by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Central Florida Community College. He had started his college career at Florida International University in 2016, but had transferred to a junior college after his freshman season to get a chance to pitch as a starter. By draft time, he had flashed 100 mph on the radar gun, making him a clear candidate to go in the 1st round. He was the Blue Jays' second selection in the draft, following Logan Warmoth with pick #22, and the pick was compensation from the Cleveland Indians for signing DH/1B Edwin Encarnacion as a free agent. His health was a concern though, as he had screws inserted in his elbow in high school.
He made 8 starts in the Blue Jays' system in 2017, with two different teams, but pitched only 20 innings as the Jays wanted to limit his innings. He was lights out during his brief time on the mound, though, with an ERA of 0.90 and a 26/5 K/W ratio. A freak injury limited him to just one appearance in 2018, with the Class A Dunedin Blue Jays, when he was struck in the forearm by a batted ball and broke a bone. However, he recovered in time to pitch in the Arizona Fall League. In spring training in 2019, the Jays were torn between the fact that his stuff was almost at major league level, but that the team would need to be careful with him given his history of injuries. He made it all the way to AAA that season, after starting off at Dunedin, and had eye-popping numbers: a 5-4 record with a 2.30 ERA in 25 starts, and 119 strikeouts in 101 2/3 innings. He was considered the consensus top pitching prospect in the organization and appeared in the 2019 Futures Game. The Blue Jays deliberately delayed his major league debut in order to limit their workload, but it was clear that, unless there were health issues, it would take place sooner rather than later during the 2020 season.
Indeed, while he did not open the 2020 season on the 30-man roster, he was added in time for the 6th game to start against the Washington Nationals on July 29th. It was technically the Blue Jays' home opener, even if played at Nationals Park. He was matched up against Nationals ace Max Scherzer but matched him pitch for pitch, tossing five scoreless innings and touching 99 mph in striking out Carter Kieboom to end the 4th. He was everything the Blue Jays had been waiting for in this first taste of the Show. However, his next outings were not so good as he allowed a total of 15 runs over his next three starts, then went on the injured list. He returned on September 25th, when he made one relief outing and earned his first big league win against the Baltimore Orioles. He pitched impressively enough to be added to the team's postseason roster. He made one appearance in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, pitching two innings in relief after an early exit by ace Hyun-Jin Ryu. He was very impressive, retiring all six batters he faced, including five on strikeouts. Overall for the season, he was 1-0 with an ERA of 6.00 in 18 innings.
In 2021, he was again hurt in spring training and started his season in AAA with the displaced Buffalo Bisons. On May 9th, he was called up to make a spot start with Toronto, but it went badly as he allowed 3 runs in 2 1/3 innings, on 4 hits and 5 walks. He was charged with the 7-4 loss to the Houston Astros. He returned to Buffalo where he struggled before going on the injured list again. In the meantime, he was passed by Alek Manoah on the Jays' depth chart, as Manoah pitched very well after being called up to Toronto and earned a permanent spot in the starting rotation. When he returned in Buffalo, he was in the bullpen and pitched well enough to be one of two players added to the major league roster when it expanded to 28 players on September 1st. However, in his first outing in relief against the Oakland Athletics on September 3rd, he allowed 2 runs in 1 inning and did not look particularly sharp. His next outing, two days later, went much better as he struck out the side to close out an 8-0 win.