It’s no secret that Nate Pearson throws hard. Through three Minor League seasons and a handful of appearances in the bigs this year, the top Blue Jays prospect put on display one of the best fastballs in the game and in the Toronto organization as a whole.
Now, after just his fifth Major League appearance, that heater is in the record books.
Pearson used a 101.5 mph four-seamer to strike out Baltimore's Austin Hays, which registers as the fastest pitch ever thrown in Blue Jays history. He threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings in Toronto’s 10-5 win over the Orioles at Sahlen Field, allowing a hit and a walk while fanning two en route to his first career Major League win.
MLB Pipeline’s No. 7 overall prospect wasted no time making history as Hays was the first batter he faced upon entering in the top of the fourth. His first offering was another scorcher, a 100.1 mph fastball that Hays watched pass into the strike zone. Pearson chased that with a 86.3 mph slider on which Hays whiffed to make it 0-2.
After staring him down for a moment, Pearson delivered the historic pitch, which came in high at about the level of Hays’ neck.
Pearson got Jose Iglesias to ground out but walked DJ Stewart. Fifth-ranked Orioles prospect Ryan Mountcastle followed with a single to left field, but the right-hander got Rio Ruiz to bounce to second to escape the jam.
He came out in the fifth and retired Hanser Alberto on a fly ball to left field on only two pitches, then fanned Chance Sisco but was lifted in favor of Shun Yamaguchi. He ended up throwing half of his 24 pitches at 98 mph or better.
The performance came in Pearson's first game back with the team after landing on the Injured List with right elbow tightness on Aug. 19. He’s appeared in five games this season and carries a 6.00 ERA with 16 strikeouts through 18 innings.
"It felt amazing, just to be able to help this team out," Pearson told reporters. "I know we're getting close to the playoffs, and just help out any way I can. And it felt really good to be back to myself out there."
In addition to registering his first win, the 24-year-old made his first big league relief appearance. It was an adjustment but one that he took on easily.
"As a reliever, it's a little bit different," Pearson said. "You know, you're coming into the game and you don't know exactly what time you'll be throwing your first pitch, so just getting ready and warmed up is a little bit different. ... Once I get out there, it's just like I was starting. You just try to get the first guy out, first-pitch strikes, pound the zone and just get guys out."
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was careful with how much he used Pearson but also was hoping to see how he'd respond throwing multiple innings of relief.
"I kind of wanted him to go around 25 pitches, 20 to 25," Montoyo said. "But I also wanted him to go back, sit down and go back to see how it would look, and he looked good. He passed that test. He came back throwing hard still, so that was good to see."
With only two games left in the regular season, Pearson said he hopes to make another relief appearance before the playoffs begin. But even if he doesn't, he'll be ready to take the mound when his number is called.
"I can have whatever impact they want me to," he said. "My plan is to, whenever I get the ball, just go out there and put up zeros. That's what I know I'm capable of doing."
Over three seasons in the Minors, the 2017 first-round pick logged a 2.19 ERA. He enjoyed the most success last year, when he soared three levels while spinning a 2.30 ERA with 119 strikeouts over 101 2/3 innings.
Blue Jays No. 22 prospect Thomas Hatch walked one over two innings of hitless relief, while 19th-ranked Patrick Murphy closed things out by yielding a run on two hits in the ninth.
For the O’s, Mountcastle finished 2-for-3 with a walk to nudge his slash line up to .333/.389/.504 through 33 games.
In other action:
D-backs 4, Rockies 0 (1st game)
Third-ranked D-backs prospect Daulton Varsho registered his second career multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Batting leadoff, he singled to center field in the first inning and another in the third off starter Antonio Senzatela, coming home on Christian Walker's seventh homer. Varsho has hit safely in four of his last five games. No. 28 prospect Pavin Smith was 0-for-2 with a walk for Arizona. Box score
D-backs 11, Rockies 5 (2nd game)
Pavin Smith, Arizona's No. 28 prospect, belted his first big league homer to help complete a sweep of the twinbill. He connected for a solo shot in the fifth inning off veteran reliever A.J. Ramos, sending an 0-2 fastball into the bleachers in right-center field. No. 18 prospect Tommy Doyle bounced back from a tough big league debut by tossing a scoreless inning for the Rockies. Box score
Giants 5, Rockies (1st game)
Top Giants prospect Joey Bart extended his hitting streak to four games with an RBI single in the fourth inning and scored when Mike Yastrzemski homered into McCovey Cove. The No. 12 overall prospect is 5-for-14 during the streak. Box score
Padres 6, Giants 5 (2nd game)
No. 24 overall prospect Luis Patiño recorded his first big league win when Trent Grisham's three-run homer gave San Diego a walk-off victory and a split of the doubleheader. Recalled from the team's alternate training site before the game, the 20-year-old right-hander struck out two and worked around a walk in a scoreless inning. Top Giants prospect Joey Bart was 0-for-3. Box score
Marlins 4, Yankees 3 (10 innings)
Tenth-ranked Marlins prospect Monte Harrison came on as the designated runner in the 10th inning, took third on a sacrifice by Jon Berti, escaped a rundown on a grounder to shortstop, then scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jesus Aguilar. The win clinched second place in the National League East and secured Miami’s first postseason berth since winning the 2003 World Series. Box score
Cubs 10, White Sox 0
Third-ranked White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal went 0-for-3, ending a seven-game hitting streak and lowering his slash line to .344/.378/.376 through 26 games. Box score
Reds 7, Twins 2
No. 6 Reds prospect Jose Garcia entered as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning and scored on a single by Freddy Galvis. For Minnesota, No. 26 prospect Jorge Alcala retired both batters he faced to end the ninth, knocking his ERA down to 2.70 through 15 appearances. No. 16 Edwar Colina surrendered three runs on four hits and two walks, recording just one out in his Major League debut. Box score
Braves 8, Red Sox 7 (11 innings)
No. 3 Red Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec went 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI single in the 10th inning. He's hit safely in five of his last six games to bring his on-base percentage up to .361 and has driven in 14 runs in 21 games since joining the team from its alternate training site. Box score
Royals 3, Tigers 2
No. 7 Tigers prospect Daz Cameron continued to rake after a 1-for-27 start to his big league career. The 23-year-old went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles to bring his average up to .200. He’s hit safely in four straight and six of his last seven games. Sixth-ranked prospect Isaac Paredes went 0-for-3 and is batting .223 in 32 contests. Box score
Brewers 3, Cardinals 0 (1st game)
No. 15 overall prospect Dylan Carlson reached base in both of his plate appearances for St. Louis in the opener of a doubleheader. One night after driving in three runs, he walked in the third inning against left-hander Brent Suter, then reached on an infield single in the fifth against right-hander Devin Williams. The top Cardinals prospect is 6-for-12 in his last four games. Box score
Cardinals 9, Brewers 1 (2nd game)
Top prospect Dylan Carlson helped the Cardinals earn a split of the doubleheader. He walked and delivered a two-run double in a six-run fifth inning to boost his slash line to .214/.268/.388 through 33 games. Box score
Rays 6, Phillies 4
Rays No. 19 prospect Randy Arozarena went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored. The 25-year-old owns a 1.046 OPS in 59 at-bats this season. The Tampa Bay bullpen deployed four relievers who tossed hitless frames. Among that group were rookie right-handers Ryan Thompson and John Curtiss, who combined for five strikeouts. Box score
Dodgers 9, Angels 5
No. 82 overall prospect Brusdar Graterol was credited with his first National League win, despite giving up a solo homer to red-hot Jared Walsh in the fifth, his lone inning. Dodgers No. 20 prospect Victor Gonzalez struck out three in a one-hit eighth, lowering his ERA to 1.40 in 14 relief appearances. Box score
Indians 4, Pirates 3
Second-ranked Bucs prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes singled in a run and walked in four plate appearances. He’s batting .329/.400/.592 through 22 games. No. 10 Jared Oliva went 1-for-4, picking up his third hit in 15 big league at-bats. Box score
Jordan Wolf is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter: @byjordanwolf.