At some point in near future, the reins will come off Nate Pearson. Given more leeway Wednesday, the 22-year-old showed what he could do, even if the competitor in him yearned for more.Toronto's No. 2 prospect didn't allow a hit while striking out eight over a career-long 5 2/3 innings,
At some point in near future, the reins will come off Nate Pearson. Given more leeway Wednesday, the 22-year-old showed what he could do, even if the competitor in him yearned for more.
Toronto's No. 2 prospect didn't allow a hit while striking out eight over a career-long 5 2/3 innings, but Double-A New Hampshire ultimately fell to Harrisburg, 5-3, at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
Pearson left with his team up, 3-0, and handed off his no-hit push to the bullpen. Fisher Cats left-hander Jake Fishman notched the final out in the sixth frame, but the Senators' Dante Bichette ended the bid for history with a leadoff double to begin the seventh.
Coming off a 2018 season in which Pearson's lone start lasted all of 10 batters, the last of which fractured his right arm with a line drive, the Blue Jays have been understandably cautious with their prized pitcher. Pearson knows it's in his best interest, even if he doesn't always like it.
"It was nice to go a little further tonight," the 2017 first-round pick said. "I wanted to stay out there and keep competing. I felt I had plenty of energy and enough stamina, but that's what the situation is right now. I'll take what I can and go with it. It was a nice outing."
In his first full-season campaign a year later than he and the organization anticipated, MLB.com's No. 39 overall prospect has started 18 times between Class A Advanced Dunedin and New Hampshire, averaging just over three innings per outing. He completed five frames five times through his first 17 appearances, but had not done so since June 9.
Pearson made sure pitch counts and innings limits were of little importance against the Senators, who tagged him for five runs in 4 2/3 frames on May 30. The Florida native retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced Wednesday -- his only blemish coming on a walk to Nationals No. 19 prospectTres Barrera with one out in the second. Nick Banks was the second and final Harrisburg baserunner after he reached on a wild-pitch strikeout with two down in the fifth. Pearson wrapped up his 11th scoreless outing of the year by fanning Michael A. Taylor on his 74th pitch.
Gameday box score
"I had my fastball command tonight and when I have that, my off-speed follows behind it," the College of Central Florida product said. "The fastball was good from the start, so I knew it was going to be a pretty good night. I was on a 75-pitch limit, so I tried to make the most of it. I told myself, 'Let's see how many innings we can get out of that 75.'
"I knew I had a no-hitter after the third inning. Once you get through the order that first time, you have a pretty good idea of what's going on. I just wanted to see how far I could take it. I'm pretty satisfied with the result."
Through 12 starts with the Fisher Cats, the 6-foot-6, 245-pounder has produced a 2.93 ERA with a 0.90 WHIP and 45 punchouts in 40 innings. Overall, Pearson has a 2.21 ERA and an 0.80 WHIP in 61 frames, despite missing time with an undisclosed ailment last month.
"I'm not at all surprised by my season," he said. "My work ethic is second to none. When I was injured last year, I made sure I improved in areas outside of pitching. I found some new routines, ate healthier and did anything I could to get better. Going to the [Arizona Fall League] was a great experience. I had some rough outings, but also some very good ones. That carried me through the offseason and into Spring Training. I could tell then that it was going to be a good year."
After two hits, Fishman completed a scoreless seventh and William Ouellette held the fort in the eighth. However, Harrisburg rallied in the ninth on five hits and two wild pitches against 26-year-old righty Corey Copping (0-1), which turned a 3-0 Fisher Cats lead into a 5-3 loss.
Jays No. 27 prospect Santiago Espinal doubled, singled and drove in two runs and fifth-ranked Kevin Smith added a pair of base knocks.
Nationals 25th-ranked prospect Jackson Tetreault surrendered three runs on three hits and three walks with four strikeouts in six innings. Bryan Bonnell (2-1) allowed a hit and struck out two during a scoreless eighth for the win and Aaron Barrett notched his 21st save.
Banks' two-RBI triple pushed the go-ahead runs across for Harrisburg in the ninth. Barrera and Bichette had two hits apiece.
Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB.