MANCHESTER — Nate Pearson’s first trip to the Futures Game was as much of a learning experience as it was fun. While the Toronto Blue Jays’ No. 2 prospect got to show off his rocket arm for an inning in front of a massive audience in Cleveland, it was off the field where he benefited most, getting the chance to talk with legends like Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Thome.
“It was just an honor to be among those guys and have those guys in our dugout,” Pearson said. “It’s kind of weird because you grow up seeing videos of them and them having great careers and becoming Hall of Famers and then they know your name. That part of it is pretty wild.”
Pearson pitched well in his brief appearance in the game. He struck out two in a clean inning and hit over 100 miles per hour on the radar gun four times, including an overpowering 102 mph. His velocity didn’t stop Griffey from messing with him, telling him to throw harder.
Pearson also got the chance to pick the brains of some other top prospects, including the Kansas City Royals’ top prospect, Brady Singer, and Detroit Tigers’ No. 2 prospect Matt Manning.
“Brady and I played together when we were in high school for a little bit and then Matt is just really good, too,” Pearson said. “He’s a good dude, he was fun to talk to and just pick his brain. I just talked to the guys about stuff they’ve had success with, pitching wise.”
Now that the All-Star break is behind him, Pearson will turn his attention to finishing the second half of the season strong. He’s had an up-and-down year due to injuries and pitching restrictions, but the organization is looking to stretch him out and let him ramp up his activity going forward.
In 10 starts with New Hampshire, Pearson has a 3.48 ERA and has struck out 34 in 31 innings.
He’s been spending a lot of time in the weight room before games trying to get his body right and is also doing extra pitching work on his off days. By all accounts, he feels good right now.
“I just want to finish strong,” he said. “The finish line of the season is coming closer and we’re making a playoff push here, hopefully. Just stay healthy and finish strong is all I can ask myself. I need to get myself stretched out to five innings, maybe six, maybe seven. I have some innings to play with since I missed a couple outings with my groin injury, so hopefully I can use them.”
There had been recent rumblings about Pearson possibly making the move to Triple-A Buffalo as early as this year. It’s not something he’s paid much attention to since he knows there is still work to be done to get back to where he needs to be before taking that next step.
“My focus is here right now,” he said. “I’ll cross that Triple-A bridge whenever it gets here.”