I grew up listening to stories about arguably one of the greatest MLB hurlers of all time, Bob Feller, who pitched for Cleveland from 1936 – ‘56. He didn’t pitch from 1942 – ’44 because he served in the war. However, Feller did pitch for 18 seasons in the MLB. He went on to win 266 games while losing only 162. He punched in 3,827 innings, struck out 2,581, had a career 1.316 WHIP, and 63.9 WAR.
My stepdad, who is a big Cleveland fan, used to tell me all kinds of stories about Feller and some of the great games he remembers him pitching in way back when. And what’s crazy to think is that he broke into the MLB as a 17-year-old, earning the large sum of $1,800. But, a pouch of tobacco only cost ten cents back then, so it all kind of worked itself out.
Another young hurler that comes to mind, who broke into the show as a teenager is Dwight Gooden for the Mets back in ’84. And, there was Felix Hernandez for the Mariners back in ’05. It’s rare that a pitcher breaks into the MLB as a teenager. And it’s even more rare if they actually have success.
17-year-old Eric Pardinho might not be having success in the MLB just yet, but he has had a great season in Bluefield. Now, there’s a good chance, of course, that he might not end up setting foot on the turf at the Rogers Centre as a teenager like the aforementioned pitchers, but he did become a millionaire at the age of 16 – not too damn bad at all.
And maybe it’s not too crazy to think that maybe he actually will make his major league debut as a teenager because you just never know with prospects. I think that if Pardinho continues to have success, he could finish next year in Dunedin just like Vladdy did when he was 18-years-old.
Now, I don’t want to try and stare into some magic crystal ball and predict when Pardinho will eventually be pitching with the Jays. But, I do look forward to watching this young prodigious star climb his way up the system. Fangraphs has his ETA for 2021.
The fact is that it’s kind of crazy just how good of a season Pardinho has put together this year. And if he continues to be this damn good and stay healthy, maybe that ETA is September 2020. This season Pardinho has 64 Ks in 50 innings pitched while only walking 16. In 11 starts, he’s gone 4 -3 with a 2.88 ERA and a .199 BAA if you’re into the back-of-a-baseball-card kind of stats. This is especially impressive given the fact he’s three-and-a-half years younger than the average player in the league. And he brings more depth to a Jays system that seems to have some pretty damn talented arms at all levels.
In a recent piece for MLB.com, Gil Kim says…
“In Pardinho, in Vladdy, in Bo Bichette, we saw guys that we had a pretty good level of confidence in that, whether they succeeded or struggled performance-wise, that they would be able to continue their work, they would stay positive, and it would be a good learning experience for them.”
At this point in Pardinho’s young career he has had more success than failure and it will be interesting to see how he handles the different levels, especially once he finds himself in New Hampshire where hitters make pitchers pay for mistakes.
Earlier in the year, I interviewed Lansing Lugnuts pitcher Brayden Bouchey and he said that when he was called up to the ‘Cats this season he noticed an obvious gap between the hitters in the Midwest League compared to the Eastern League. He told me that pitchers definitely have to be able to pitch ahead in Double-A because if they get behind, hitters know what’s coming, and that makes it a lot easier for them. Bluefield definitely isn’t New Hampshire. But, Pardinho is on route to getting there eventually.
Pardinho, who was born in Bastos, a small municipality in San Paolo, might not find delicious brigadeiro at local coffee shops in America or Canada. And he might not find cachaça in too many bars in North America when he’s old enough to drink. But, I’m guessing he’s excited to get into the AL East rivalry one day, once he makes it through New Hampshire and Buffalo first.
It’s a rivalry similar to the soccer in São Paulo, where it’s all about Corinthians, who are the most popular club in that region, unless you’re a fan of Palmeiras or Sao Paulo – a three-way rivalry that is like the teams in the AL East, sort of. Pardinho is still many miles away from that, but the kid has definitely made some noise this year. It should be fun to track where this young man goes in the coming years.