Nate Pearson is a great leaguer. However, he was only officially there a few days after the MLB 2020 season.
Pearson’s club, the Blue Jays, applied the hated (but allowable) formula to postpone a top candidate’s call until he was sure he was no longer eligible for six free seasons. Toronto did that last year with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., although the Jays had the legitimate excuse that a jump training injury slowed Guerrero’s development.
MLB 2020: stars, storylines and things to watch
Pearson, 23, on the other hand, is healthy and has 100 mph of heat. His Wednesday arrival in Washington – where he was called up to start against Max Scherzer and the Nationals World Champion – will support a revamped spin with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Matt Shoemaker and Tanner Roark and could eventually include Chase Anderson, who is dealing with an oblique injury.
July 29 was the target date for Pearson’s call because it was seven days into the shortened 66-day season, which started on July 23. Under a formula agreed in March by MLB players and owners, debutants do not receive credit for a full season of service if called up after the sixth day of the season. The Jays have Pearson for 55 of their 60 games if they keep him going all season.
Toronto saw its prized right-handed fight through an exhibition outing against the Red Sox at Fenway Park two days before the season opener. He gave up four runs in a shortened first inning before returning with three scoreless frames. Then they sent him to wait with the other Jays reserve players before bringing him back.
Several other high-level prospects are lining up to receive the Pearson treatment, and their debut has been strategically delayed:
Joey Bart, C Giants
Bart, 23, is San Francisco’s top catcher with Buster Posey signing out this season, but the Giants don’t want to rush their top perspective. They may be able to be patient if the team gets off to a bad start with 4-A filler Tyler Heineman as the number 1 receiver, but if San Francisco comes out of the gate soon, there will be pressure to pronto Bart in the lineup .
Dylan Carlson, OR, Cardinals
Carlson, 21, has shown the good people of St. Louis enough; they think he should be on the field now. But the Redbirds have depth in the field: Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler, Lane Thomas and Austin Dean are all on the 40-man roster.
Wander Franco, SS, Rays
Tampa Bay does not need the 19-year-old Franco at the moment; it has a good selection of infielders that can contribute to a pennant competitor. On the other hand, he was in the big club camp, although he only played in Single-A last year. Maybe it was the strikeout rate of 7.1 percent in 2019 – as a teenager. He is the future in St. Pete; he is simply not the immediate future.
Jo Adell, OR, Angels
Angels fans dream of Adell and not Brian Goodwin alongside Mike Trout in the outfield, but manager Joe Maddon said the 21-year-old needs work, and a lot, before he can come. Adell will have to get that work against his fellow reserves on the Halos’ alternative training site.
Spencer Howard, RHP and Alec Bohm, 3B, Phillies
The Phils can claim that they have the depth to play Howard, who is assigned to the reserve camp, but they also want to compete this year and the last two spots in the rotation will be split between Zach Eflin (ERA 4.13 in 2019), Vince Velasquez (4.91) and Nick Pivetta (5.38). Bohm is blocked by Jean Segura and Scott Kingery, who suffered a service delay in 2018 by signing a lengthy deal before his debut.
Other MLB clubs decided not to watch the clock. The White Sox went from the start with outfielder Luis Robert (but kept second baseman Nick Madrigal down), the Mariners are on first base with Evan White and the Royals immediately put Brady Singer into rotation.
Robert and White, like Kingery, signed long-term contracts while they were still small leaguers. Singer, on the other hand, was just too good for the Royals to keep it under control. He made his debut last weekend and threw five solid innings.