Pearson's Draft stock exploded in the weeks prior to the 2017 Draft after the right-hander hit 102 mph during a heavily scouted bullpen session. That late helium earned the JC of Central Florida product a first-round selection by the Blue Jays in June, and Pearson continued to light up radar guns during his pro debut after signing for slightly above slot value. A fractured right forearm suffered on a comeback line drive limited Pearson to just 1 2/3 frames during his 2018 full-season debut, but he bounced back after the season with a healthy, eye-opening performance in the Arizona Fall League, then recorded a 2.30 ERA, 0.89 WHIP (third-best in Minors, 100 IP min.) and 119/27 K/BB over 25 starts in '19 while ascending from Class A Advanced Dunedin to Triple-A Buffalo.
Pearson may be the epitome of a power pitcher, but he also has all the ingredients needed to develop into a top-of-the-rotation force. While he famously hit 104 mph during a one-inning, 2018 AFL Fall Stars Game outing, Pearson's explosive fastball usually sits in the 98-101 mph range as a starter. His upper-80s slider, much like his heater, is the best in Toronto's system and highly effective against hitters on both sides of the plate thanks to its late, glove-side action. Pearson's changeup was his most improved pitch in 2019 and now projects as at least above-average, and he understands how to steal early strikes and keep hitters off-balance with his top-to-bottom curveball. Overall, Pearson limited hitters to a .176 average in '19, the eighth-best mark in the Minors (100 IP min.).
Beyond the stuff, Pearson uses his height (6-foot-6) to create steep downhill plane, does a good job repeating his athletic delivery and is consistently around the zone with all four pitches. His secondaries and overall command will require more fine-tuning, though some of that should come naturally as Pearson gains experience. He'll enter 2020 on the cusp of the Major Leagues after finishing the previous year in Triple-A, but it shouldn't be long until the right-hander, who has as high a ceiling as any pitching prospect in the game, becomes a fixture in Toronto's rotation.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 75 | Slider: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 60
Pearson had some late helium ahead of the 2017 Draft after he hit 102 mph during a heavily scouted bullpen session in late May. The Blue Jays ended up selecting the JC of Central Florida product with the second of their two first-round picks the following month, signed him for slightly above slot value at $2,452,900 and then watched him light up radar guns during a dominant pro debut. Pearson's first full season lasted just 1 2/3 innings as he suffered a fractured right forearm after being struck by a line drive in early May, but he returned to the mound and impressed in the Arizona Fall League, finishing with a series of strong outings after a rusty start.
Pearson features front-of-the-rotation stuff when he's healthy, including the best fastball and slider in Toronto's system. His fastball sits in the upper 90s and routinely touches triple digits, and he showed he could run his heater up to 103-104 during an all-out first inning in the Fall Stars Game. His slider is a similarly powerful offering, thrown in the upper 80s with late, glove-side bite that leads to both whiffs and weak contact, especially against righties. He showed feel for landing a top-to-bottom curveball in the zone during the AFL, giving him a solid change-of-pace breaking ball, and his changeup should be at least average once developed.
Pearson uses his height to his advantage, creating a downhill angle to the plate so as to pound his fastball and slider down in the zone, and he's athletic enough to believe that both his control and command will improve as he gains experience. Few pitching prospects in the Minors can match Pearson's high ceiling, and he can move closer to reaching it with a healthy campaign in 2019.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 55 | Curveball: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 55
After appearing in 19 games but making only one start as a Florida International freshman in 2016, Pearson transferred to JC of Central Florida and dominated as a starter, posting a 1.56 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 81 innings. The performance, along with a heavily scouted bullpen session in late May, during which he hit 102 mph, gave the right-hander some serious helium ahead of the 2017 Draft. The Blue Jays ended up selecting Pearson 28th overall with the second of their two first-round picks, then signed him for slightly above slot value at $2,452,900. Pearson continued to thrive in his pro debut, turning in a lights-out performance across two levels, though he's been plagued by injuries in 2018. A back injury delayed the start of Pearson's season until early May, and when he finally took the mound, the right-hander logged just 1 2/3 innings in the Florida State League before being struck by a line drive that resulted in a fractured right forearm.
Pearson's four-pitch mix is highlighted by the best fastball and slider in Toronto's system. He was consistently up to 97-98 mph with his fastball during the spring and threw even harder in his pro debut, at times bumping triple digits, albeit in shorter stints. Pearson has already cleaned up his slider since signing and now throws it with more power and tilt in the upper 80s, giving him a legitimate put-away pitch to complement his explosive fastball. His changeup is currently ahead of his curveball, with the former grading out as an average pitch and the curve being more fringy.
There's some concern regarding Pearson's durability because he had a screw put in his right elbow in high school, but the 6-foot-6 hurler was nothing but healthy and durable in junior college and during his debut. Provided he stays healthy, Pearson seems well on his way toward becoming a No. 3 starter, perhaps more if he can improve his secondaries and overall command.