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Photo Credit: @WBCBaseball

Blue Jays Favoured to Sign Two Top International Amateur Prospects

On Friday morning MLB.com’s MLB Pipeline released their list of the top 30 international amateur prospects for this year’s July 2nd bonanza, and it turns out that the Blue Jays are in hot and heavy on a couple of the top names. Specifically, Brazilian right-hander Eric Pardinho (ranked #5), and Dominican infielder Miguel Hiraldo (17th).

In his piece announcing the list’s release, Jesse Sanchez notes that “the Angels, Blue Jays, D-backs, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees will be out of the penalty and no longer be limited to signing players for $300,000 or less come July 2.”

The Jays were, of course, in the penalty because they ponied up large for Vladimir Guerrero Jr., which is working out, y’know, pretty goddamned gloriously so far. Right now Vladito is one of the very youngest and best hitters in the Midwest League so far, slashing .342/.457/.579 for Lansing, which has little to do with this next class of youngsters, but I mention because it’s fucking awesome.

The other reason the Jays ended up in the penalty, of course, is because MLB’s international amateur bonus pool rules are just a scheme to suppress the amount of money teams are paying to these players, but I digress…

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Pardinho, Sanchez tells us, is “the new face of baseball in Brazil.” I guess that Yan Gomes thing isn’t going so well these days?

“The right-handed pitcher with World Baseball Classic experience and an advanced approach on the mound is expected to sign with the Blue Jays,” Sanchez adds.

Though these things aren’t formalized until July 2nd, and sometimes things can change at the last minute, we learned from the Vladito saga that these deals come together early, and when we start hearing stuff like “is expected to sign with,” you can pretty much put it in the bank. Not quite. But almost.

So who is Pardinho? What do we need to know?

In an article from back in January, Sanchez explains:

Pardinho burst onto the scene last summer when he pitched for Brazil in the under-16 Pan-American Baseball Championship against the Dominican Republic and struck out 12 batters in the win. He became an international sensation when he pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief for the country’s team in the 10-0 win against Pakistan in the World Baseball Classic qualifier last September in New York. Pardinho’s fastball was clocked at 94 mph during the outing.

In his MLB Pipeline capsule, we’re also told that Pardinho has “impressed scouts with his advanced approach on the mound and experience against top competition,” but that “some scouts have expressed some concern about Pardinho’s overall upside and projectability given his smaller frame.”

On one hand:

On the other we have some real talk from Brent Pourciau and former big leaguer (and Blue Jays spring training invitee, who was outstandingly profiled for us last year by John Lott) David Aardsma. In the video below they break down Pardinho’s mechanics, which they like (though at one point say, “I wouldn’t want the kid to watch this”), but wonder how much more ceiling is there.

That is, of course, the projectability concern. If Pardinho is a 15-year-old with an especially mature body, they suggest, maybe there really isn’t anywhere for him to go.

Then again, it’s not like the Blue Jays haven’t considered this and feel he’s a good bet anyway (and the folks at MLB Pipeline, by virtue of his ranking fifth in the class, would seem to concur). Plus, if he’s touching 94-95, and able to continue to do so (which Pourciau and Aardsma think he can, though in a slightly different way than he does now as his body gets stronger and less flexible), it’s not like he wouldn’t still have utility if he doesn’t go anywhere at all.

Worth a watch, though — if even just for the mechanical talk:

On the other hand, we have here a video from Baseball Rebellion, which mostly eschews the projectability talk and looks more squarely at Pardinho’s mechanics — which the narrator very much likes.

“His fastball and his movements and mechanics are second to none, especially as a 15-year-old,” he says.

Interestingly, the second video — in addition to mentioning Aroldis Chapman a couple times, which… holyfuckingSWOON (as long as we’re just talking about the pitching aspects of Chapman, obviously) — notices some similarities in Pardinho’s lower half with pitchers from Japan. He might well be bang on, as Sanchez’s profile notes that “Eric was born and raised in Bastos, a small municipality in Sao Paulo settled by the Japanese, to Evandro Pereira Pardinho and mother Rosa Reiko Taniguchi, who was born in Brazil to Japanese parents. The family spent part of Eric’s childhood in Japan.”

He adds that “It is believed that American companies first brought baseball to Brazil in the late-1800s,” but that “the Japanese immigration to Brazil in the early 1900s also played a large role in the growth of the sport in areas where they settled.”

So we’ve got a bit of colour for his story, too. Something to look forward to for when he starts knocking on the door of the big leagues in seven years.

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The other prospect the Jays are linked to is Miguel Hiraldo, though the language used about this one isn’t quite as unequivocal as the claim that it’s “expected” the Jays will sign Pardinho. In Hiraldo’s MLB Pipeline capsule we’re told that the Jays are merely “the favourite to sign the infield prospect.”

Let’s hope they do, though! Because the capsule also says that he “is a pure hitter, arguably the best overall hitter in the class.”

Translation: defence isn’t exactly his calling card. Case in point, though the video below lists him as a shortstop, and the capsule says he might be able to stay there, they add that “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.”

Yeah… I’m not holding my breath for a lot of defensive value. But do you want to know the terrifying truth, or do you want to see Hiraldo sock a few dingers?

Or, y’know, whatever he’s socking here, in this video set to a song featuring José Reyes:

There is considerably less information on Hiraldo available online than there is Pardinho, so… I guess that’s it!

See you in 2024, Miguel!