Blue Jays prospect Pardinho already showing off ‘advanced’ fastball

Eric Pardino was considered one of the top international prospects available this summer (Andre Penner/AP)

TORONTO – It doesn’t take long to notice Eric Pardinho’s fastball. Soon after the 16-year-old prospect picked up a ball at Rogers Centre Friday, he made an impression on his throwing partner.

“Even when we were playing catch, he was already throwing freaking hard,” said Blue Jays translator Josue Peley. “I’m like ‘OK, this guy has something.’”

In the bullpen session that followed, the Brazilian right-hander reinforced that positive first impression.

“If you didn’t tell me he was 16, I would have never believed that he was 16,” Peley said. “I mean his face and everything looks 16, but the way the ball was coming out of his hand, it didn’t look like a 16-year-old at all.”

Blue Jays decision makers agreed and committed $1.4 million to Pardinho when the 2017 international signing period opened last month. Widely considered one of the top prospects available, Pardinho has an advanced feel for pitching.

“I’d never seen a kid at this stage with this kind of fastball command and overall fastball effectiveness,” said Blue Jays assistant GM Andrew Tinnish, who oversees the club’s international scouting.

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Pardinho throws a traditional four-pitch mix: a curve, slider and change-up along with a fastball that sits around 92-93 m.p.h. and touches 95. MLB Pipeline ranked him fifth among available international prospects before he signed with Toronto this summer, and he now places 16th among Toronto’s top prospects–ahead of Riley Adams and Danny Jansen but behind Ryan Borucki and Justin Maese.

Also in Toronto Friday was Miguel Hiraldo, a shortstop who signed for $750,000 out of the Dominican Republic this summer. MLB Pipeline describes the 16-year-old as “a pure hitter, arguably the best overall hitter in the class” and he had the chance to showcase his skills at Rogers Centre, fielding ground balls at short during batting practice before taking some swings of his own alongside big-leaguers.

Scouting teenage pitching prospects internationally typically means sifting through “kids trying to overthrow or throw hard and light up a radar gun,” as Tinnish puts it. It’s rare to find a 16-year-old whose present command grades as high as 40 on the 20-80 scouting scale.

In contrast to those norms, Pardinho’s delivery and arm action are “really advanced.” Thanks to his athleticism and core strength, his command is already average or above, at least 50 on the scouting scale.

“That sets him apart,” Tinnish said. “Not only does he have velocity, but he does it easy, he repeats his delivery and he throws strikes.”

The Blue Jays expect Pardinho to play affiliated baseball next year as a way to start building up a base of experience. He has already faced some advanced competition, having impressed in World Baseball Classic qualifiers in New York City last year. Still, at just 16 years old he has years of development ahead.

Listed at five-foot-10, Pardinho’s considerably smaller than most top pitching prospects. But if any team knows that shorter pitchers can succeed, it’s the Blue Jays.

“We’ve got a right-handed pitcher who’s relatively short here and he does all right,” Tinnish said in reference to Marcus Stroman. “You don’t necessarily have to be big to throw hard and throw strikes.”