Jacob Pearson Brims With Quiet Confidence
The advanced plate discipline, the surprising power, the sound defensive fundamentals and the accurate arm weren’t all that impressed Mike Gallego about Jacob Pearson in the two weeks the Angels' player development director worked with the 19-year-old outfielder in instructional league.
"He doesn’t have any tools that wow you, but he has this quiet confidence about him,” Gallego said. "He’s a good kid, a hard worker, a bulldog with a grinder mentality.
"He has a different look in his eye. He’s focused. He doesn’t give much of a response to questions—it’s usually either ‘yes’ or ‘no’—but in the time I spent with him, I saw him improve right in front of my eyes.”
The Angels selected the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Pearson, who bats lefthanded, in the third round out of West Monroe (La.) High last June and spent $1 million to buy him out of a Louisiana State commitment.
After hitting .519 as a prep senior, Pearson struggled in the Rookie-level Arizona League, hitting .226/.302/.284 with no homers 40 games. He struck out 37 times and drew 15 walks.
But that hardly soured the Angels on Pearson, a pure hitter with above-average speed and an advanced approach at the plate.
Pearson has a strong, athletic build and is physically mature. He generates good bat speed with a quiet swing that doesn’t have a lot of moving parts. His ability to barrel up the ball and impart backspin on it gives him surprising power.
His speed will allow him to beat out infield hits and turn doubles into triples. He has a slightly below-average but accurate arm, he moves to the ball aggressively in the outfield and has good hands, footwork and release.
"He has very good plate discipline for a kid—he knows what pitch he’s looking for and can wear a pitcher down,” Gallego said. "He’s seeing more velocity now, and he’s a little out of whack with the breaking ball, but he’s a competitive kid. What got me about him was how quickly he’s improved in all aspects of the game.”
• The Angels’ top performer in the Arizona Fall League was Nathan Bates, a 6-foot-8 righthander who went 2-1, 2.38 in eight relief appearances, striking out seven and walking one in 11.1 innings. A 15th-round pick out of Georgia State in 2015, Bates pitched at high Class A Inland Empire this season.
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• A shoulder injury limited catcher Taylor Ward, a 2015 first-round pick out of Fresno State, to one game in the AFL.