He may best be known around these parts as an integral part of "Team Steve". But let's look beyond those furry cheeks he is grooming right now and learn a bit more about Mr. Pearce.
-Pearce attended the same high school as famous Oriole-alum, Boog Powell
-Dream job besides baseball: professional golfer
-Favorite movie: 300 (I would have thought "The Wolverine")
-He is real good at ping-pong. In fact, he took down the Oriole-champion, J.J. Hardy, in a spring training tournament
*facts from MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli
Pearce played four years of college baseball. From 2002 through 2003 he was a member of Indian River Community College. After that, he transferred to South Carolina and played in both 2004 and 2005. While a Gamecock, he was impressive, hitting .346 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI as a junior and setting a school-record with a 1.000 fielding percentage at first base. His senior year was a worthy follow up; .346 average with 21 home runs and 63 RBI.
In 2003, Pearce was picked by the Minnesota Twins in the 45th round of the amateur draft. He would not sign and instead enrolled at South Carolina. He was again drafted in 2004. This time in the 10th round by the Boston Red Sox. Yet again, he declined and returned to Columbia. He finally signed following his senior year, when he was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth round.
In the minors, Pearce was well-regarded for his work with the lumber. Following a 2007 season that saw him climb quickly from the high-A Lynchburg Hillcats all the way to the Pirates big league squad, he was named the #89 prospect in the minors by Baseball America and the third best prospect in Pittsburgh's system. That same season also saw him capture the title of "Best Hitter for Average" and "Best Power Hitter" down on the Pirates farm.
Even though he made it to the big league club at a steady pace, Pearce never really stuck with the Pirates. He played in parts of five different seasons, never getting into more than the 60 games he saw in 2009. His power potential also failed to materialize, managing a meager nine home runs in those five seasons.
Following 2011, Pearce would begin a whirlwind of transactions. He was granted free agency by Pittsburgh. He would sign with the Twins, but was released a week before Opening Day. The Yankees snapped him up two days later. He wouldn't make it into a game for the big league squad before the O's purchased his contract. Baltimore kept him for nearly two months before trying to sneak him through waivers. He wouldn't make it; Houston selected him and placed him right into the starting lineup.
Pearce stayed with the Astros for one month until a former team came calling. This time it was the Yankees again, who purchased his contract from Houston. Another month after that, the Orioles were able to get the versatile ball player the same way they lost him; via waivers. Since then, he has been an Oriole. However, he did nearly become a Blue Jay this past April, but instead he came back to Baltimore for a chance to play while Chris Davis was on the disabled list.
Pearce's worth is at the plate. His career major league numbers are nothing to write home about: a .240 batting average, .318 on base and a .386 slugging percentage. However, his numbers coming up through the farm are eye-grabbing. He boasts a .294 batting average with a .371 on base and a .522 slugging percentage in 622 minor league games.
But the games in the show are what really count and Pearce has been just OK. The all-encompassing stat of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) reflects that. Fangraphs gives him a 0.5 WAR in his career, while Baseball Reference is a bit more lenient with their 1.2 WAR. Either way, he is considered a borderline major league player.
In the field, the Florida native has major league experience at first base, third base, right field and left field. By far, his skill set fits best at first base. His career zone rating per 150 games is a very good 5.9. That is better than current starter Davis' rating of -2.3 at the position. Davis was a Gold Glove contender in 2013.
However, Pearce rates negatively at the other three positions. So, while that number at first is nice. It isn't reason enough to be a regular in the big leagues when he doesn't have the power numbers to back it up.
There is a reason that Pearce has bounced between so many squads. He is good enough to be on a major league roster, however, not good enough to lock down a full time spot. His bat still has power potential and he plays a good enough defense to serve as a late-inning replacement on some teams. That said, he is 31 years old and the time to play the "potential" or "upside" card has nearly run out.
This is a player that the Orioles value and don't want to lose. He provides depth at first and the corner outfield positions. As seen already this season, he can fill in admirably when needed. However, it's a numbers game and Pearce's career numbers seem to show that he will have a difficult time becoming anything more than a serviceable backup.