OCALA--College of Central Florida baseball player Nate Pearson was drafted 28th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays Monday night in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft. Pearson is the highest draft pick to ever come out of CF.
"We are just so excited for Nate," said Patriot head coach Marty Smith. "The Blue Jays got a tremendous pitcher and one of the hardest workers. We can't wait to see what is in store for him going forward."
The 2017 Perfect Game/Rawlings JUCO Pitcher of the Year dominated opponents on the mound this past season, allowing one earned run or less in nine of his 13 starts. His 1.56 ERA (0.85 in conference) ranked Top 3 in the state this season and second all-time in Patriot history.
The 6-foor-6 right-hander from Tampa, Fla. ranked Top 3 in the state and NJCAA in total strikeouts all year long, striking out 118 in 81 innings of work. Pearson held opponents to a dismal .194 batting average while recording nine or more strikeouts in nine of his 13 starts. He recorded a career-high 15 strikeouts against conference rival Daytona State College on March 1.
Pearson first grabbed the attention of scouts after throwing 100 MPH at the annual FCSAA fall showcase in Lakeland.
As the spring season progressed, Pearson's velocity and command strengthened with every start. He would go on to earn FCSAA and NJCAA Pitcher of the Week honors for his complete-game shutout against Seminole State College on March 6. He allowed just two hits and struck out 10 in the win.
Fast forward to the offseason and pre-draft preparations and Pearson has been throwing the best he's ever thrown.
Pearson held a bullpen session for MLB scouts on Memorial Day at Tigertown, the Detroit Tigers' spring training facility in Lakeland, where he topped out at 102 MPH, with some scouts clocking him at 103. His off-speed pitches, according to scouts, were the best they've seen from him all year with his slider sitting 85-89 and his changeup ranging 90-92.
Pearson came to CF by way of Bishop McLaughlin High School and Florida International University.
At Bishop McLaughlin, Pearson led the Hurricanes to the FCSAA state semifinals as a senior, going 9-1 on the year with 109 strikeouts in 72 innings. Pearson then went to FIU for his freshman year, before transferring to CF for his sophomore season.
The LSU signee will forego his junior and senior seasons in quest of his childhood dream of making it to the big leagues.