Nate Pearson has been a player that has excited Toronto Blue Jays fans for a long time. As most fans know, Pearson was the Blue Jays first-round pick in the 2017 MLB draft. However, they might be intrigued to see how the Blue Jays acquired that draft pick. Having played in the Blue Jays organization for nearly five years, Pearson rose as a highly-touted prospect. The 2019 season added to Pearson’s lore as he was the Blue Jays representative in the MLB Futures Game and won MVP. Pearson remains a promising young pitcher, and the evolution of the draft pick was two decades in the making, going through some familiar faces who once played for the club.
Nate Pearson Backstory
Toronto selected Orlando Hudson, a second baseman, in the 33rd round of the 1996 MLB Draft. Hudson was drafted two and a half months before Pearson was born. Unfortunately, the eighteen-year-old rejected the signing offer to go to college in South Carolina. The Blue Jays would again select Hudson in the 43rd round a year later. Hudson would develop in the minor league system for four years. Eventually, he would make his major league debut in 2002. During his four seasons in Toronto, Hudson hit .270/.328/.418 with 35 home runs and 201 RBI. After the 2005 season, the Blue Jays trade Hudson and relief pitcher Miguel Bautista to the Arizona Diamondbacks for prospect Sergio Santos and third baseman Troy Glaus.
At the time, Glaus was a three-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, and the 2002 World Series MVP. Having signed a five-year deal with the Diamondbacks, the Blue Jays traded for Glaus to become the everyday third baseman. During his two seasons with the Blue Jays, Glaus hit .256/.360/.496 with 58 home runs and 166 RBI. Glaus also represented the Blue Jays at the 2006 All-Star Game. However, his tenure in Toronto would end abruptly following the 2008 season. General Manager JP Riccardi would send Glaus to the St. Louis Cardinals for another Scott Rolen.
Scott Rolen had been in the major leagues for 13 seasons. Similar to Glaus, Rolen played the hot corner for the Blue Jays. Having won the 2006 World Series in St. Louis, Rolen was poised to win one more before the end of a remarkable career. His 2008 season included lost time due to injuries, but he hit .262/.349/.431 with 3.4 WAR. The following season, the 34-year old hit .320/.370/.476 while playing great defense. Rolen’s brief stint in Toronto ended when he was shipped to the Cincinnati Reds for Josh Roenicke, Zach Stewart, and Edwin Encarnación.
No one saw it coming that Edwin Encarnacion became one of the best Blue Jays players in franchise history. After his eight seasons with the Blue Jays, he is third all-time in home runs with 293 and an OPS of .877. Furthermore, the Dominican slugger is second all-time in slugging percentage with .522. “Edwing” became a reliable part of the Blue Jays lineup.
Following the 2016 season, Encarnacion would head to free agency once again. After seeing what he could do in the Toronto lineup, the Blue Jays wanted to try and keep him. As a result, they gave Encarnacion a qualifying offer of $17.2 million for the 2017 season, which he rejected. Once the Blue Jays signed Kendrys Morales, Edwin would ultimately sign with the Cleveland Indians. But, due to the compensation rule, the Blue Jays got Cleveland’s first-round draft pick for 2017. Now, this is where the 28th overall pick of the 2017 draft comes into the story.
Here Comes Nate Pearson
Nate Pearson quickly rose through the minor league system. Pearson made his major league debut in 2020against Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals. The 25-year old averages his fastball up to 98 mph, one of the fastest in baseball today. His fastball paired with a great slider has allowed him to get to the major leagues. While he is still young and has been shaky in some starts, there is still time for improvement. He will likely work on his game in the bullpen before he transitions back to a starter. Altogether, Pearson will be a Blue Jay for the foreseeable future.
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