When you think of Brazil, one thing that doesn’t come to mind is baseball – that’s for sure. It’s arguably the greatest country for producing flamboyant soccer teams, the kind that make other nations look flat-footed on the ol’ pitch, excluding that horrific loss to Germany in the last World Cup, on their own soil no less.
I will never forget being a little squirt back in 1994 and watching the World Cup final between Italy and Brazil on that hot July afternoon in an Italian Café on Facer St. in St. Catharines – a small lil’ Italian neighborhood. Roberto Baggio missed the decisive penalty that crowned Brazil the champions and every old Italian man in the café was cursing and gesticulating passionately in fine Italian fashion.
At that time, Brazilian pitching prodigy Eric Pardinho hadn’t even been born yet. But almost 24-years later, he would find himself signing a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays for some serious cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M. get the money, ‘1.4 million’ dollar bill y’all. Wu-Tang? Damn right. Anyway, moving on …
Pardinho was born and raised in Bastos, a small city in São Paulo. The people of São Paulo, of course, love their different soccer clubs, but that should go without sayin’, right? Baseball isn’t really a thing yet in Brazil and if you asked any Brazilian about Eric Pardinho, you would get a shoulder shrug reply. In São Paulo, it’s all about Corinthians, who are the most popular soccer club in that region, unless you're a fan of Palmeiras or Sao Paulo – a three-way rivalry that is like the Yankees vs. Red Sox vs … the Jays? – Or something like that.
Now, I have a lot of Brazilian friends, so I know a bit about the culture, their delicious brigadeiro, and strong cachaça, which I have a bottle of in my liquor cabinet right now – free pour a nice amount of that over some ice in the summer with some lemon juice and a bit of sugar and in no time you will be a couple sheets to the wind – just sayin’.
So when the Blue Jays inked Eric Pardinho last July, I googled the hell out of the kid to learn as much as I could about him. I looked at scouting reports, watched videos on YouTube, and read as many articles on the ol’ Internet as I could find. I do remember one article – I’m not sure which one – saying that he spoke in Spanish during some interview, which casts serious credibility doubts, seeing that the people of Brazil speak Portuguese.
I digress, Baseball America had ranked Pardinho as the 14th top international prospect in early July and he's currently ranked as the 15th best prospect in the Blue Jays' system. And if he continues to develop his skills and things don’t go sideways for some reason, I'm sure he will climb up those rankings.
But why should he go sideways? Really? It’s only a matter of time, I believe, before the name Pardinho starts to roll off the tongues of many Canadian baseball fans in excitement, followed by a Canadian - Eh!
It's no secret that the kid has heat and touched 95 with his fastball, but some scouts worry about his height as he is 5-foot-10, and they don’t believe he will get much taller because of the size of his parents – whatever. HDMH? Exactly.
It's also worth noting that I spoke briefly to Doug Fox, who you all know as Clutchlings and now Future Blue Jays, and he told me that the Blue Jays have landed a top-ranked IFA arm in Pardinho. He said, of course, that we don't want to get ahead of ourselves with a 16-year-old, but he's never heard Andrew Tinnish so enthused about an arm - so there's that.
I know Pardinho is still a kid and that maybe it’s a bit too early to get excited about him in the Blue Jays’ system, but why the hell shouldn’t we. He’s only 16 right now but in five years time, he could potentially be in the Bisons’ rotation. And if the organization holds onto their top prospects, which seems to be the plan, this prodigious pitcher could become a major contributor during the Vlad Jr., Bo Bichette, Nate Pearson era that we all know looks bright.
It’s been well documented that Pardinho entered Brazil’s CT Yakult Academy at the age of 12, and spent three years there using traditional Japanese training techniques.
I was pretty bored last night and was missing me some good ol’ baseball, so I decided to watch videos of some of the top prospects in the Blue Jays’ system on YouTube, and I came across a video of Pardinho from Baseball America.
I watched it a few times and couldn’t help but notice that his pitching delivery reminded me of Yu Darvish with his leg kick and just overall pitching mechanics on the dirt hill. I then, of course, put on my Fox Mulder hat and began looking up videos of Japanese pitchers and comparing them to Pardinho.
Call me crazy, but take a look at Pardinho’s delivery:
And now compare it to this video of Darvish and Tanaka:
I’m not a pitching expert, I’m certainly no Pete Walker, but by my eyes can’t help but see similarities between them, which is pretty bat-flippin’ cool.
I know it’s probably a bit too early to get excited about Eric Pardinho, but he is only a couple spins of the ol’ Earth away from becoming an important piece to the Blue Jays’ affiliates, amirite? Damn right, I’m right – just sayin’.
If all goes well during Pardinho’s progression through the farm and he finally arrives in Toronto to make his Blue Jays debut, the Vlad Jr.’s-led Blue Jays will be in full stride.
Maybe it’s too early to be excited about this prospect, but when you really think about it – maybe it’s not.