The elusive battle to keep pitchers healthy has become a cottage industry of sorts inside baseball organizations, with projects like “high performance” departments and the growing use of sports science as part of player development aimed at maximizing the amount of time pitchers — young ones, in particular — spend on the mound.
Despite advancements in technology and a seemingly endless array of information, the plain truth remains that throwing a baseball at high velocity is awfully tough on the arm, and odds are some sort of injury will pop up sooner or later for anyone that spends a large amount of time doing it for a living. One of the most major of such injuries is the dreaded Tommy John procedure, which generally costs the injured player a full year of their career to come back from.
Toronto Blue Jays prospect Eric Pardinho reportedly underwent the procedure today and is expected to miss all of 2020 in recovery, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America.
Eric Pardinho, one of the Blue Jays top pitching prospects, had Tommy John surgery today. Will be back in 2021.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) February 12, 2020
It is not the first brush with injury for the young pitcher, but it is the most severe. Last year at spring training he was shut down until June after feeling discomfort in his elbow. Pardinho, who turned 19 in January, pitched 33.2 innings in 2019 at low Class A level ball for the team’s Lansing Lugntus affiliate. He struck out 30, posting a 2.41 ERA in the seven appearance stint.
He told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi in August that a full season of health was his main priority going forward after last spring’s setback. “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,” Pardinho said at the time. “That’s my main goal, to pitch a full season.”
Just half a year later, he will have to wait another full season before getting the opportunity to show his stuff at full-season ball, and will have lost nearly two years of development to rehabbing injuries.
A native of Lucelia, Brazil, Pardinho signed a $1.4 million bonus as an international free agent as a 16-year-old in 2018. Baseball American had him ranked as the number 84 prospect on their Top-100 list prior to the 2019 season, and MLB.com placed him number five on the Blue Jays’ top-30 prospects list.
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