Blue Jays prospect Eric Pardinho salvaging season after elbow scare

The Blue Jays signed Pardinho as a 16-year-old international free agent in 2017. (Andre Penner/AP Photo)

Eric Pardinho’s first thoughts when he experienced tightness in his elbow during spring training were of surgery. The 18-year-old Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect had never felt anything similar previously in the joint, and he was scared his season might be over before it started.

To his great relief it wasn’t, the discomfort coming from a ligament that was strained but not irreparably damaged, giving him a chance to salvage his 2019. Since joining low-A Lansing at the beginning of July, Pardinho has worked toward that over seven starts, posting a 2.67 ERA and WHIP of 1.248 in 33.2 innings with 30 strikeouts, although the Blue Jays continue to be cautious with him.

On Monday, he was placed on the injured list so he skips a start “to offer some extra recovery, as we’ve done previously with starters throughout the organization,” according to player development director Gil Kim.

The pause is another step in a year of adjusted expectations for one of the Blue Jays’ top pitching prospects.

“My main goal was to pitch this entire year,” Pardinho, in comments interpreted by teammate Joey Pulido, says during a recent phone interview prior to his placement on the IL. “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.”

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The work the native of Lucelia, Brazil, signed for $1.4 million in 2017, is putting in now is all designed to make that happen in 2020. At a total of 37.2 innings thus far, he’s off the pace of the 50 frames he logged at rookie-ball Bluefield last year, but amassing frames isn’t the sole priority.

Kim said the Blue Jays are still considering if “adding some innings, or a focus on physical development” makes more sense over the winter. For now, simply playing in a league where he’s nearly four years below the league’s average age for pitchers offers benefits.

“The main goal is exposure to that higher level of competition in full-season ball and he’s facing hitters there that he hasn’t faced as consistently in the past,” says Kim. “So it’s really about acquiring game repetitions at this point and finding ways to build up some innings, too.”

Development priorities for Pardinho include gaining consistency with his curveball and increasing the use of his changeup. He’s delved into that, using TrackMan data to find ways to become consistent on the mound. The info on his spin rate and spin efficiency is helpful but what’s been most beneficial is the data on his arm extension.

“TrackMan will let me know where my most accurate pitches are and what the extension is for those pitches,” says Pardinho. “I’ve used that information in games to help me get to where I need to be to be accurate.”


Triple-A Buffalo Bisons

Jordan Romano (rib-cage strain) has started a rehab assignment and is expected to rejoin the Blue Jays bullpen once ready. … Reliever Ty Tice is drawing internal praise for how he’s performed this season and he was thought to be a sure addition to the big-league bullpen once the trade deadline passed. But since he doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster until December 2020 to avoid the Rule 5 draft, the Blue Jays are wary of starting his clock too early and tying up a 40-man spot for him this winter. His walk rate has also spiked at Buffalo, which has worked against him. … Three notables eligible for Rule 5 this year are left-hander Anthony Kay, acquired from the Mets as part of the Marcus Stroman deal, 2016 first-rounder T.J. Zeuch and left-hander Kirby Snead. … Kay has posted consecutive strong starts after a shaky first outing with the Bisons. There’s an outside chance he earns a September call-up, but would really need to be rolling for that to happen.

Richard Urena, SS
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2012
Season to date: 346 PA | 4 HR | .272/.307/.381 | 17 BB | 74 K
Season to date (Majors): 43 PA | 0 HR | .250/.268/.325 | 1 BB | 13 K

Anthony Alford, OF
Acquired: 3rd round, 2012 draft
Season to date: 274 PA | 6 HR | .263/.344/.420 | 26 BB | 79 K

Anthony Kay, pitcher
Acquired: Trade with Mets in 2019
Season to date (Buffalo): 2.87 ERA | 15.2 IP | 11 BB | 17 K
Season to date (Syracuse): 6.61 ERA | 31.1 IP | 11 BB | 26 K
Season to date (Binghamton): 1.49 ERA | 66.1 IP | 23 BB | 70K

T.J. Zeuch, pitcher
Acquired: 1st round, 2017 draft
Season to date: 4.92 ERA | 53 IP | 27 BB | 26 K

Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Patrick Murphy continues to rehab from the shoulder injury he suffered after being forced to tweak a delivery umpires ruled illegal, and is expected to join the Blue Jays as a September call-up if healthy. … Shortstop Kevin Smith posted a .556 OPS through the season’s first 61 games but since June 22, has delivered a .925 OPS in 37 games as he works to rescue his season. … Right-hander Thomas Hatch, acquired from the Cubs for David Phelps, is Rule 5 eligible this winter.

Kevin Smith, SS/3B
Acquired: 4th round, 2017 draft
Season to date: 398 PA | 17 HR | .213/.272/.417 | 27 BB | 127 K

Riley Adams, C
Acquired: 3rd round, 2017 draft
Season to date (New Hampshire): 274 PA | 7 HR | .255/.339/.414 | 25 BB | 87 K
Season to date (Dunedin): 83 PA | 3 HR | .277/.434/.462 | 14 BB | 18 K

Nate Pearson, pitcher
Acquired: 1st round, 2017 draft
Season to date (New Hampshire): 2.84 ERA | 57 IP | 18 BB | 63 K
Season to date (Dunedin): 0.86 ERA | 21 IP | 3 BB | 35 K

Yennsy Diaz, pitcher
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2014
Season to date (New Hampshire): 4.17 ERA | 118.2 IP | 48 BB | 95 K
Season to date (Majors): 27.00 ERA | 0.2 IP | 4 BB | 0 K

Hector Perez, pitcher
Acquired: Trade with Astros in 2018
Season to date: 4.70 ERA | 105.1 IP | 60 BB | 103 K

Patrick Murphy, pitcher
Acquired: 3rd round, 2013 draft
Season to date: 4.61 ERA | 82 IP | 27 BB | 86 K

Joey Murray, pitcher
Acquired: 8th round, 2018 draft
Season to date (New Hampshire): 4.50 ERA | 20 IP | 9 BB | 24 K
Season to date (Dunedin): 1.71 ERA | 63 IP | 19 BB | 77 K
Season to date (Lansing): 3.82 ERA | 30.2 IP | 12 BB | 40 K

Logan Warmoth, SS
Acquired: 1st round, 2017 draft
Season to date (New Hampshire): 182 PA | 0 HR | .190/.302/.268 | 19 BB | 49 K
Season to date (Dunedin): 158 PA | 3 HR | .292/.380/.423 | 19 BB | 41 K

Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays

Simeon Woods Richardson, the other pitcher acquired by the Blue Jays in the Stroman deal, has responded well to a promotion to high-A in three starts, striking out 18 batters in 13.2 innings while walking five. … Righty Josh Winckowski continues to impress after being promoted to Dunedin from Lansing and is steadily building admirers among Blue Jays player development staff. … Kyle Johnston, acquired from Washington for Daniel Hudson, has had a rough go in two outings for Dunedin, posting an ERA of 11.05.

Kevin Vicuna, SS
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2014
Season to date: 400 PA | 1 HR | .242/.308/.315 | 27 BB | 74 K

Alejandro Kirk, C
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2016
Season to date (Dunedin): 236 PA | 2 HR | .297/.394/.441 | 30 BB | 27 K
Season to date (Lansing): 96 PA | 3 HR | .299/.427/.519 | 18 BB | 8 K

Maximo Castillo, pitcher
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 205
Season to date: 2.85 ERA | 113.2 IP | 26 BB | 102 K

Simeon Woods Richardson, pitcher
Acquired: Trade with Mets in 2019
Season to date (Dunedin): 3.95 ERA | 13.2 IP | 5 BB | 18 K
Season to date (Columbia): 4.25 ERA | 78.1 IP | 17 BB | 97 K

Low-A Lansing Lugnuts

The season is over for Jordan Groshans, who suffered a stress reaction in his foot back in May and didn’t recover. He continues to rehab but has yet to resume baseball activities. … Right-fielder Griffin Conine has delivered stunning power numbers since returning from a 50-game suspension for using a banned stimulant, hitting 19 homers and 12 doubles in 270 plate appearances, but he’s also struck out 102 times. … Catcher Gabriel Moreno, 19, continues to impress at Lansing with an .880 OPS in 65 games. … Righty Juan De Paula, the key returning piece from San Francisco in the Kevin Pillar deal, has been hit hard in six starts at Lansing, with a 9.17 ERA in 52 innings. He was recently placed on the seven-day IL.

Jordan Groshans, SS
Acquired: 1st round, 2018 draft
Season to date: 96 PA | 2 HR | .337/.427/.482 | 13 BB | 21 K

Hagen Danner, C
Acquired: 2nd round, 2017 draft
Season to date: 305 PA | 12 HR | .171/.256/.372 | 27 BB | 96 K

Reggie Pruitt, CF
Acquired: 24th round, 2015 draft
Season to date: 384 PA | 1 HR | .273/.352/.365 | 40 BB | 101 K

Otto Lopez, IF
Acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2016
Season to date: 406 PA | 4 HR | .310/.361/.400 | 30 BB | 56 K


Alek Manoah, the 2019 first-rounder, is looking strong in limited usage at short-season-A Vancouver, striking out 12 batters in six innings over three games. … Righty Adam Kloffenstein, a third-rounder last year, is pitching well over 10 starts with the Canadians, striking out 41 while walking 19 in 46.1 innings of work. He’s allowed only three homers over that span. … Shortstop Miguel Hiraldo is carrying an .849 OPS through 44 games as an 18-year-old in rookie-ball Bluefield.

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