This is the first in a series of ten articles about the Blue Jays top minor league prospects. I try to take a fairly deep dive with these posts, so I thought I would try posting them individually.
Projection is the name of the game when you are talking about minor leaguers. These are always written with that in mind. Since minor league stats can be very misleading (at least without some context), my goal is to provide insights that are difficult to find anywhere else.
I called up the Brazil-Pakistan World Baseball Classic online last fall in order to get a first-hand look at Bo Bichette, who hit over .400 for the Gulf Coast Blue Jays after being drafted in the 2nd round in June, and was playing for Brazil. Bichette was as advertised – a kid with a funky load that translated into lethal bat speed. His breakout 2017 was no surprise.
Pakistan, in its first taste of big-stage international play, was predictably overmatched against Brazil. With no MLB-affilated players in their lineup, they were likely just happy to be there. What really caught my eye, however, was a 15 year old RHP Brazil brought into the game in relief named Eric Pardinho, who the Blue Jays signed for a $1.5 million bonus on July 2nd. He hit 95 that inning, and was dominant (he did give up a hit on a 1-2 cement mixer breaking ball) against the hitters he faced, most of whom were about twice his age.
Pardinho hails from the Sao Paolo region of Brazil, which has a fairly rich baseball heritage thanks to an influx of Japanese immigrants in the early 1900s (Pardinho’s grandparents on his mother’s side. When he was 12, Pardinho trained at Brazil’s famous CT Yakult Academy, which specializes in “traditional Japanese training methods.” Whatever those methods might be, they’ve worked. Pardinho has a smooth, low-effort delivery with a clean arm action, and while that’s no guarantee for a young arm that already dials it up to 94, it bodes well for the future. The ball seems to explode from his hand from those polished mechanics. Baseball America compiled video of his delivery:
Pardinho was the 14th-ranked international prospect by BA, and the top-ranked pitcher. His best secondary offering is said to be his curve. His overall command already grades at 50, and will likely improve under the Blue Jays’ tutelage.
Blue Jays Assistant GM Andrew Tinnish, who oversees international scouting, told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi in August that Pardinho is a rare find:
“I’d never seen a kid at this stage with this kind of fastball command and overall fastball effectiveness……Not only does he have velocity, but he does it easy, he repeats his delivery and he throws strikes.”
Why rank a player who has yet to play in a pro game a Top 10 prospect? The velocity and location helps, as does the delivery. It suggests there’s room for further velo, and the athleticism he displays holds hope for further development of his secondaries. Even though he’s not the biggest of kids (listed at first at 5’10”, the reports now mostly seem to say 5’8″, so let’s call him 5’9″). He may not turn out to be a Pedro Martinez, Tim Lincecum, or Marcus Stroman, but that’s enough of a sample size to make you think his size will not be an issue. That downward, eye-changing plane that tall pitchers get on their pitches makes them the preferred recruit among most MLB teams, but there’s a lot to be said for movement, location, and general pitchability, which Pardinho has in abundance. He will only improve in his first few pro seasons.
Pardinho should make his debut in the Gulf Coast League next summer.