NICK MEARS, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: October 7, 1996
Height: 6′ 4″
Signed: Minor league free agent, 2018
How Acquired: Non-Drafted Free Agent
College: Sacramento City CC
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|The Pirates signed Mears as a non-drafted free agent just before the 2018 minor league season ended. He had Tommy John surgery in 2015, then pitched for Sacramento City Community College in 2017, putting up a 2.56 ERA, with 39 strikeouts in 31.2 IP. He didn’t play in 2018 until the summer due to a personal issue. Mears got some attention in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer league in which he pitched in 2017 and 2018. Between the two summers, he fanned 44 in 23.1 IP. That probably led to Baseball America rating him the 35th best prospect in Northern California going into the 2018 draft. At the time he signed with the Pirates Mears threw 93-96 mph, but by mid-2019 he was sitting in the upper-90s and had hit 100. He’ll throw the pitch high, which has led to very high K rates. He’s working on a curve to replace his slider, which hasn’t been an effective pitch. He occasionally throws a change. Mears quickly showed more of a ceiling than the usual NDFA.
The Pirates sent Mears to the West Virginia Black Bears, where he got into three games. He struck out over half (8 of 15) of the batters he faced.
Mears moved up the ladder quickly, starting the season in Greensboro and finishing it in Altoona. He spent the bulk of the season with Bradenton, also missing a little time in July. He missed a lot of bats throughout and got over some early control problems; he walked three in his very first game, but after that walked two in one game and never more than one in any other. Opponents batted only .186 against him. He had a huge platoon split. He held right-handed hitters to a puny 116/171/232 line, but left-handed hitters were a problem, posting a 278/395/431 line.
Mears could become a bullpen option for the Pirates fairly soon, but he’ll have to do better against left-handed hitters.
UPDATE: With their bullpen in a complete meltdown early in the abbreviated 2020 season, the Pirates called Mears up.