The Toronto Blue Jays are set to make another big splash on the international free agent market this summer.
On July 2nd, the Debutante Ball of Baseball begins anew, with hundreds of Caribbean players finally getting their chance to play affiliated baseball as the international signing period begins. Major League organizations line up to sign 16-year old talents from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil. With rules changes in effect for the 2017-18 signing period, teams will now have $4.75 Million to sign international prospects, with teams receiving $1-1.25 Million more should they have Competitive Balance picks.
The Jays, as they did in 2015, will look to make an aggressive move towards international free agents this summer. As a team that rarely has a high spot in the June Amateur Draft, the international signing period offers a bit of a competitive check to perennially poor teams. Those free agents were listed in Top 30 format today by MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, and the Blue Jays came up in regards to Sanchez’s incredibly interesting No. 5 overall player:
Coming in at No. 5 is Eric Pardinho, the new face of baseball in Brazil. The right-handed pitcher with World Baseball Classic experience and an advanced approach on the mound is expected to sign with the Blue Jays.
If that name sounds familiar, it might be because Eric Pardinho gained worldwide attention in September when he pitched in a World Baseball Classic qualifier game for Brazil versus Pakistan. As a 15-year old. Throwing 94 MPH. Pardinho tossed 2/3 of an inning and allowed a base hit and a walk, but didn’t surrender any runs in the 10-0 win. Now, Pakistan is no baseball powerhouse, but for a 15-year old, on that stage…it’s impressive.
— WBC Baseball (@WBCBaseball) September 22, 2016
Pardinho could be the best arm to come out of Brazil yet (or at least by July 2nd), and features some excellent stuff for being only 16-years old. As far as Brazilian pitchers go, there aren’t many. In fact, there’s only one active with MLB experience right now, 28-year old Andre Rienzo of the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres.)
Pardinho, 16, is a sensation in Brazil. Fastball has touched 95, has strong curve and a SL/CH. Stands 5-foot-10, 155lbs. #BlueJays
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) May 5, 2017
At 5’10” he’s not at all big, but at 16-years old you’d have to figure he has plenty of time to grow into a larger frame. That being said, he’s currently bigger than current Blue Jays rotation mainstay Marcus Stroman. Pardinho has been profiled extensively over at Clutchlings, and we’d certainly recommend taking the time to read this piece from a month ago. Turns out the Jays have been on the inside track for Pardinho for a while.
The Blue Jays signed the top international Free Agent for 2015 in 16-year old Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., but certainly aren’t getting the same player in Pardinho. While Guerrero has the bloodlines of a future Hall of Famer and grew up with steep competition in the Dominican Republic, Pardinho attended baseball academies and aside from the World Baseball Classic, hasn’t faced any steep competition. Essentially, the Jays are signing a high school arm to dream upon, but with a long and steep developmental curve in front of them.
Also mentioned in Sanchez’s piece is the Blue Jays’ interest in 3B Miguel Hiraldo (17th on this year’s list) out of the Dominican Republic. From Sanchez:
Hiraldo is a pure hitter, arguably the best overall hitter in the class, and that’s why he is one of the most coveted players on the market.
He can play shortstop and there’s a chance he stays at the position, but there is also a belief that he might end up at third base. Second base is also a possible destination for the versatile fielder, as is the outfield.
This much is certain: Hiraldo is a hit-first prospect and he has a chance to be a special player on offense. Scouts like Hiraldo’s approach and his swing. He’s a mature player with quick hands, a plan at the plate and he can hit the ball hard to all fields. He’s also been praised for his makeup and how he plays the game.
Hiraldo trains with Juan Herrera in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The Blue Jays are the favorite to sign the infield prospect.
Sure, we’ll take that.
These are, of course, unconfirmed rumours, but Jesse Sanchez is almost never wrong with these things. Still, teams swoop in at the last minute and handshake agreements exist, but at the moment, it seems like the Blue Jays organization will get a significant boost from this year’s international signing period.