The current MLB season featured stud rookie batters led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette bursting on the scene for the Toronto Blue Jays. But the final months of the regular season also saw promising pitchers T. J. Zeuch and Anthony Kay get their first taste of MLB action, giving fans a glimpse of what may be waiting for the organization in the next few years.
Still, the Blue Jays have an impressive list of other solid pitching prospects. One of them is the Lucelia, Brazil native Eric Pardinho.
The 18-year-old is still too young to join Zeuch, Kay, and even names like Nate Pearson, Julian Merryweather, and Patrick Murphy on the mound in 2020 for Toronto, but he’s still ahead of schedule in his baseball career.
Pardinho signed with Toronto as a 16-year-old international free agent for $1.5 million US in 2017. As a rookie, he had impressive performances, totalling 64 strikeouts in 50 innings with a 2.88 ERA.
Playing at Lansing in 2019, the Brazilian showed why he started the year ranked fifth in the Blue Jays’ top 40-prospect list, posting a 2.41 ERA in 32.2 innings with 30 strikeouts.
Pardinho’s main pitch is the fastball, which he was able to reach 95 m.p.h. during the World Baseball Classic for Brazil three years ago. In this past season, his fastball sat comfortably in the low 90s.
In 2020, his time with the Blue Jays affiliates will continue in Dunedin, perhaps even joining New Hampshire at some point.
He turns 19 next January and while working on his curveball and changeup appears to be important priorities for him, that’s not what he’s aiming for the most in the upcoming season.
“My main goal was to pitch this entire year,” said Pardinho, in comments interpreted by teammate Joey Pulido, to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi during a recent phone interview. “Now that it hasn’t happened, I just want to focus on staying healthy this year and hopefully having a good spring training next year so I can pitch a full season.
“That’s my main goal, to pitch a full season.”
The right-handed pitcher had discomfort in his elbow during spring training early in 2019, which wasn’t as serious as he initially thought.
Playing through injury may make his 2019 performance even more impressive.
A healthy 2020 should keep Pardinho in position to continue living up to the expectations despite being almost four years younger than the average player around him.