The “Undersized” Brazilian Teenager Barges into Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects
It’s that time of year again! We’re counting down our Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects for 2019. We’ve selected our Top 20 and will be profiling each one. You are bound to find many of these lists in your travels, which makes for great conversation. The basis for rankings varies even more than the number of lists you’ll find. Some prefer to look at how close to “big league ready” a prospect is, while others look at “stuff” or “tools”. To construct our list, we have scoured over scouting reports, numbers and a lot more to finalize our 20179 Top Prospects list. Feel free to weigh in on each selection in the comment section! It’s part of the fun!
Eric Pardinho burst on to the prospect scene a few years back, almost out of the baseball nowhere of South America. If it weren’t for the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in 2016, chances are Pardinho would barely be known today as an 18-year old pitcher in his football-crazed home country of Brazil.
It’s hard enough to stand out as a right-handed pitcher at just 5’10”, and I’m not convinced that listed height is even accurate. In America, you would have to be a college pitcher to get noticed at that size (See: Marcus Stroman). But size didn’t get Pardinho noticed – dominance did. In his brief 2/3 of an inning in that tournament, baseball evaluators took notice of his 94 MPH fastball and his exceptional command and polish at just 15 years old. The rest, they say, is history, and Pardinho signed with the Blue Jays in July 2017 for just $1.5 Million, playing his first professional ball in 2018 and turning even more heads.
At nearly four years below league average age and a significant size disadvantage, Pardinho had little issue with Appalachian League batters in 2018. He posed a svelte 2.88 ERA and struck out 64 in 50 innings, walking just 19. His HR/9 of 0.9 is simply drool-worthy, and a 4:1 K:BB is lovely.
But those are just numbers. What have the scouts been saying?
he has excellent stuff, a great delivery, above-average command/control and excellent poise for his age. Just 5-10 (maybe), he can hit 95-96 mph and could eventually boast three plus offerings.
–Source: Marc Hulet, Fangraphs: Toronto Blue Jays top 10 Prospects Updated
Fangraphs gave Pardinho a significant boost in 2018, placing him ahead of Nate Pearson on the club’s Top 10 at No. 5. At Baseball America ($), he climbed even higher to No. 4. So after his 2018 breakout, folks around the industry are really starting to take notice of the now-18 year old.
What to Expect in 2019
Pardinho is likely headed to full-season ball in Lansing in 2019, in what might be the Blue Jays’ most interesting farm club this year. But what will we be looking for from him this season? It will be extremely hard to see him improve on his 2018 dominance, so expecting a little but of a stumble with steeper competition is expected. But if he refuses to struggle, a second-half stop in Dunedin might be in the picture.
As for improvements to make, Pardinho’s stature often means he’s susceptible to leaving fastballs up in the zone with can sometimes be express-delivered to fans in the stands. While his HR/9 is manageable, it’s unrealistic to think the number in permanent, and he’ll have to work to ensure that when he is giving up contact, that’s it’s not hard contact, and that he’s inducing his fair share of ground balls and working with his defense accordingly.
Also, expect some of the most beautiful mechanics you could imagine from a teenager:
— Wade (@Every5thDay) February 7, 2019
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Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.