After a strong first-half performance, the Toronto Blue Jays’ top pitching prospect could soon be one step closer to the major-leagues. Nate Pearson, the Blue Jays’ first-round pick in 2017, could be in line for a promotion to triple-A Buffalo in the coming weeks according to Toronto GM Ross Atkins.
“Nate’s been awesome. He, unfortunately, one year ago, had the injury … and missed the entire season so we tried to expedite his development because the talent is so exceptional, really,” Atkins said during an appearance on Good Show on Thursday. “I think triple-A is clearly in sight as we get now the limits are off, where he’s going to be pitching more regular five- and six- and seven-inning outings. If he is successful for another round of outings in double-A I’m sure we’ll be talking about triple-A.”
Last year, Pearson’s season ended just about as soon as it started after he was struck by a comebacker, resulting in a fractured ulna in his right forearm in May 2018. This year, he’s healthy and thriving on the mound, already earning a promotion from single-A ball in Dunedin, where he started the season, to double-A with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. There, the 22-year-old has tallied 32 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched with a 3.54 ERA and is certainly garnering some excitement among fans eyeing his strong potential.
However, it could be tough for Pearson to earn a promotion to the majors in 2019. The Blue Jays have watched his innings total carefully after a 2018 season in which injuries limited him to just 22 innings and there’s no need to add Pearson to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft just yet. As such, his MLB debut might have to wait until 2020.
“As it relates to the major leagues, with someone who doesn’t need to be protected, it’s going to be on somewhat of a limited workload. To bring someone to the major leagues for a limited period is not always the best idea for the long-term health and strategy of not just the player, but for the entire organization,” said Atkins.
Listen to the full interview: