Nate Pearson is poised to do big things in 2019. His 2018 season was completely derailed by a freak comebacker to his arm during his first start of the season. He missed the next five months and ended his 2018 by working six games in the Arizona Fall League.
Despite him missing most of the 2018 season, the hype on Pearson is slowing gaining steam heading into 2019. He landed at number 72 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list (up from 91 last year) and 76 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list (up from 90 a year ago).
If Pearson shot up twenty-plus spots after pitching only 22 innings last year, it’s easy to imagine how far he’ll skyrocket up this list with a semi-decent season in 2019.
He spent the last week honing his craft at Driveline Baseball in Seattle. Trevor Bauer has been a partner with Kyle Boddy and Driveline for many years and it seems like Pearson is developing his own partnership with the baseball minds in Seattle.
Pearson posted a video to his Instagram a few days ago, as did Driveline’s throwing trainer, Rob Hill. Watching Pearson throw in slow motion is a thing of beauty. Watch how he harnesses every inch of his six-foot-six-inch frame to throw in excess of 100 miles per hour.
— Rob Hill (@Berticushill) January 23, 2019
Notice the lift of Pearson’s leg kick (not quite into Trent Thornton territory) and how far he powers himself off the rubber towards the mound.
The first video on this post features Pearson’s slider and its ridiculous break. From Pearson’s perspective, this pitch is coming down the heart of the plate. But at the very last moment, it dies in the dirt.
Bauer is a big proponent of tunneling and on the second video on this slide, you can see the huge break between Pearson’s fastball and slider. Good luck to any right-handed hitters trying to hit that breaking ball.
For comparison’s sake, that chart says Pearson’s fastball spin rate measured at 2399 RPM, which puts Pearson’s fastball slightly higher than Clayton Kershaw’s 2388 RPM average on his fastball.
With Pearson’s slider, his 2458 RPM ranks him on par with someone like Tony Watson, whose slider averaged 2474 RPM in 2018.
Pearson made headlines earlier this year by reaching 104 miles per hour on the radar gun during the AFL Fall Stars Game. Emily Waldon of The Athletic noted some scouts picked up speeds as high as 105 miles per hour in that game.