This article was originally published at the Redbird Daily by Colin Garner, and is now proud to call the Cards Conclave home. Throughout July, we’ll be re-running all 30 Prospect articles as we lead up to Colin’s Mid-Season Prospect Update later in the month.
In Collaboration with Kyle Reis and Birds On The Black, Colin Garner presents you with The Cardinals Top 30 Prospects! Today we have #27, Matt Pearce.
Prospect #27: RHP Matt Pearce
Entering age-24 season
Drafted in the 13th of the 2014 Draft
Springfield ERA: 3.11, Memphis ERA: 6.00
What I Like
Success at Double-A. As we saw with our twenty-seventh ranked prospect, Alvaro Seijas, success can be fleeting. While Seijas probably has better stuff than Pearce but had a 4.97 ERA at Johnson City. Pearce’s 3.11 ERA and 4.01 FIP in 2017 might be built on a foundation of sand (more on that later) run-prevention is run-prevention. In fact, Pearce has had sub-3.00 ERA’s in 2015 in Peoria and 2016 in Palm Beach.
Pearce is an innings-eater who doesn’t give up free passes. Between Double-A and Triple-A Pearce threw 164 innings last year and walked only 4.2 percent of batters faced. While BABIP doesn’t correlate well year-to-year, Pearce .259 BABIP in Springfield last year indicates he creates soft contact — something he must do if he isn’t going to strike anyone out.
On an episode of Prospect To Be Named Later last summer, I mentioned that Pearce has been steady but overlooked because he’s been on the same teams as Dakota Hudson, Jack Flaherty, and the like. I think that’s largely wrong. Pearce has been overlooked because he doesn’t have the plus stuff of the aforementioned pitchers. That doesn’t diminish the fact that he’s had some good seasons, but it can and should temper our expectations.
What I Don’t Like
The first and most obvious thing to shake your head at is the Triple-A ERA: 6.00. Over 54 innings, that’s not a terribly small sample size. On the one hand, Pearce struggled at Double-A in 2016 and improved last year. On the other, logic suggests Pearce’s pitch-to-contact style will catch up to him.
I tend to agree with the former. By digging a little deeper, it’s possible that Pearce’s 3.11 Double-A ERA was built on good fortune. The .259 BABIP I referenced earlier probably isn’t sustainable for a pitcher that only induced ground balls at a rate of 33.8% over that time.
Pearce is a solid pitcher who has done well to make it to Triple-A. The Cardinal Nation’s Derek Shore compared him to Seth Maness, and I agree that is probably Pearce’s ceiling. The game of baseball is trending away from him, however, with relievers throwing harder and striking out more hitters than ever before.
Thanks for reading!
Colin Garner (@colingarner22)