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The Bard’s Take: 2017 MLB Draft - Nate Pearson

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Covering the second requested below-slot prospect that is quickly rising through the prospect rankings.

Name: Nate Pearson

Age: 20 (August 8,1996)

Height: 6’ 6”

Weight: 240 lbs

Position: RHP

Affiliation: Central Florida Junior College

A recent rise through the prospect ranks has brought Nate Pearson’s predicted draft point up from the third round to the late first round.

Grades:

Fastball: 70 | Slider: 50 | Curveball: 45 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50

Scouting:

Those wondering who Nate Pearson is can be forgiven for not knowing about the right-handed starter from Central Florida Junior College. Undrafted out of high school, Pearson has taken the raw physical tools that were glossed over as he came out of high school and turned heads with his ability to throw triple-digit heat. In a recent bullpen session, Pearson threw multiple pitches that scouts report hit 101 or 102 mph.

Pearson does most of his work in the 96-98 mph range, relying on a strong downward plane to help his already overpowering fastball play up even more. Unlike many right-handers with such velocity, Pearson actually finds his success by working down in the zone, helping him depress home run tendencies.

Pearson’s second-best pitch is categorized as a slider. This pitch has two different looks and will need to be cleaned up before it plays as anything more than average on its best day.

The rest of Pearson’s offerings still lag significantly behind his fastball and even his slider. The change is better than his curve, but he does not disguise it well, and it still has enough velocity to behave like a fastball at times, including lacking any real late fade.

Pearson’s stamina and ability to maintain his velocity, even late in the season have some teams excited that he could have a future as a starter in the big leagues. More conservative projections have Pearson as a lights-out reliever for the back of the bullpen. As a starter, Pearson has a great deal of refinement to work on, creating a slow-track projection for his career in the minors. Already having an elite fastball, and a useable second pitch, Pearson could join a bullpen as soon as next season if used as a reliever.

The Take:

The track record for Pearson is still too small to get excited about, especially regarding his working in the 95-98 mph range with regularity. Most of Pearson’s jaw-dropping velocity has been witnessed in bullpen sessions, not in-game, though he can dial it up during games as well. With his control issues, his path to the majors as a starter is a tough sell. The chances of Pearson being a dominating starter are slim at best., especially when the chances of him being a difference-making reliever are so high. With the talent that will still be available at #7, selecting a relief pitcher over a starter or impact bat just seems like a waste, especially given the picks that will be remaining at #44.

Chances Pearson is available at #7: He’ll be there

Chances he signs if selected: He’ll sign for well-below slot. This is the best position he will ever find himself in.