After watching several of his starts this summer and perusing his numbers, Eric Pardiño’s 2019 was a little, well, underwhelming.
Pardiño lived up to the hype in skipping the GCL to begin his pro career stateside in the under-the-lights Appy League. The 5th ranked 2017 IFA was as advertised, fanning 64 in 50 innings.
The plan for 2019 was to keep Pardiño back in Extended until the Midwest weather warmed up enough to send him to Lansing, but a strained elbow ligament pushed that plan back to early July.
When he made his full season debut with Lansing, Pardiño was on a strict pitch limit. His velo sat in the low 90s, but the thinking was that he would bump that up as the summer progressed. Instead, Pardiño was shut down in early August, and while the club won’t say so publicly, they have to be somewhat concerned. Pardiño never did dial up his fastball to the upper 90s, topping out around 94, and that’s an issue.
Some evaluators suggest that maybe the undersized Pardiño has maxed out his physical projection, and that perhaps we should be looking at him in the long term more as a middle of back end of the rotation guy rather than the front end guy that was originally forecast.
There are still a great number of positives with Pardiño. His mechanics are clean, and he repeats his easy, deliberate delivery consistently. He spots his fastball well, throwing both a two and a four-seamer, and mixes that with a hammer curve that generates swings and misses, along with an improving change and slider. Pardiño shows a great feel for pitching, and can spot his secondaries for strikes early in the count. This summer, it seemed at time that he was his own worst enemy – he was not squared up frequently, but his command seemed spotty (his walk rate was up 2% over last year). He missed in the dirt with some breaking pitches, or seemed to catch too much of the strike zone at an inopportune moment. And while he has a great arsenal, that lack of upper level velo gives less room for error for all of his pitches. Getting back to his mid-90s heat would make his curve even more effective, and buy some development time for his other secondaries.
Pardiño did tantalize over a four start stretch in July when he gave up only 3 earned runs over the course of 20 innings, fanning 19. But outside of a couple of starts, he wasn’t truly dominant. Still, as one of the youngest players in all of Low A, he made an impression, and maybe we’ll see that velo return next season. That he’s fallen a bit in our rankings is a result of some concern over his fastball (and possibly his elbow), along with the addition and ascendancy of some higher-ceiling arms in the system.