Top 50 Jays Prospects, Jays Journal Edition: #20 Adonis Cardona

A potential Toronto Blue Jays ace with true #1 potential, and one of the top 3 Latin American international signings of 2010, the very best from Venezuela, is next as we break into the top 20 Jays prospects…

#20: Adonis Jose Cardona

Right Handed Pitcher / 17 years old / 6’4″ 180 lbs

image courtesy of ignacio-serrano.blogspot.com

Born: January 16th, 1994 in La Sabana Venezuela

Bats Right   Throws Right

High School Team: NA

College: NA

Signed: as an International Free Agent for $2,800,000, his agent is Carlos Gavidia

Jersey Number: None yet, will be updated on season start

Quick Facts: 

  • Baseball America first listed Adonis Cardona as being 6’1″ and 170 lbs here. I’m not certain when they posted that, but a more up-to-date listing by Ben Sadler, available here, has him listed at 6’4″ 180 lbs. The kid is still growing, and is doing so at a very quick pace!

Key Stats from 2010:

  • NA

Interviews/Videos:

  • There are a few short videos of Adonis available on Youtube. The first is available here, ananother here.

I wrote a small article about his “agreement” which occurred well before the international free agent signing period. The Blue Jays really stepped on a lot of toes by reportedly coming to an agreement with Adonis well before the July signing period. Still, they got their guy and are now set to reap the benefits of one of the highest ceiling players available on the 2010 international market. The Jays broke the Venezuelan prospect signing record when they signed Adonis to a $2.8 million deal, beating out SD SP prospect Adys Portillo who signed for $2 million. The deal was announced at the same time as the Jays signed 3B Gabriel Cenas, also a Venezuelan, for $700,000. As of August 19th 2010, Baseball America has this signing listed as the 4th highest international signing of all time.

It’s not easy to find good and reliable information about a 16-year old Latin American prospect. So, I took an unconventional route this time around, and searched for Spanish articles. I translated this article written in Spanish, from El Nacional, into English and got some pretty good information about the Cardona signing.

The article mentions that he was a well kept secret in Venezuela, despite being the son of former minor league pitcher Jose Cardona. Jose spent some time in the Texas organization in 1990 and 1991, pitching 31 games with a 1.89 ERA and 1.105 whip over his 57 innings of work. There’s nothing posted about why he left baseball after the 1991 season, but Adonis obviously got the baseball bug and a ton of skill from his father.

The article also adds information about his signing with the Jays, and adds this quote from his agent:

“We hope to be in the record, although a progressive bonus. Now passes to Toronto and he will go North” and he adds that he just doesn’t have the date of his departure set yet.

I’m not sure what the translation means in terms of progressive bonus, it could be the structure of the bonus or simply that it exceeds all bonuses ever given to a Venezuelan player. My guess is the latter, since it was a Venezuelan prospect record.

In terms of scouting, the article gives us a clue about what Adonis has to offer. They mention that he “launches drive” and that his heater is already consistently at 91 MPH and that he can reach 93 MPH. He also uses a 12-6 curve (more on this later) and an advanced change up that he gets a lot of praise for. Ben Sadler of Baseball America echoes this statement, stating that:

“Cardona, 16, has a quick arm that delivers fastballs at 88-91 mph, touching 93. He should have at least a plus fastball when he’s done filling out and should be able to hit the mid-90s down the road. He also shows some feel for a changeup.”

Sadler adds that there is some concern by many that his curve is below-average and some of his mechanics, but at 16 at the time of the signing, I’m sure it’s not that big a concern yet. I don’t know of any high school pitcher signed out of the draft that doesn’t have to work on those things, so I think the Jays have plenty of time to work through that with Adonis. Besides, you give any pitcher an above-average fastball, and an above-average change up, and you’ve got lightning and thunder on the mound. He’ll surely be able to add a third pitch to grade as average, whether it be a curve or cutter.

Another Spanish language article, available here courtesy of ignacio-serrano.blogspot.com, provides us with a great quote from Adonis Cardona himself:

“I’m very happy,” he told ESPNdeportes.com. “I am very happy to belong to Toronto. Chose their offer because they deal well with the players, as a family. They were very attentive to us.”

That’s a great thing to hear, and hopefully a sign of things to come for the Jays on the international market. Any time the Jays acquire a player who is truly happy about being with the organization, it’s a great addition and also acts as an indication of the reputation the team is building all around baseball. The fact that the Jays made him feel so wanted and comfortable that he felt the need to make that statement speaks highly of the efforts made by the Jays.

Another great quote from Adonis in the article is as follows:

“I think I can get to the big leagues in three years, three and a half, four,” he said. “As Felix Hernandez.”

That would make Adonis 19 to 21 when he makes his big league debut, depending on when in the season he would be called up. Felix Hernandez, a Venezuelan himself and obviously someone Adonis looks up to, made his big league debut at 19 and had 12 starts that year, winding up with a 2.67 whip and 0.996 whip over 84.1 IP. No wonder they call him King! If Adonis can become close to what Felix Hernandez has become for the Seattle Mariners, the Jays and their fans are in for one tasty treat!

With his build, velocity, and advanced feel for an off-speed offering, he could scream through the Jays system in the same fashion as Felix Hernandez screamed through Seattle’s. I would never place the expectation of becoming a pitcher like Felix on Adonis, but it’s hard to not compare the two when they are from the same nation and should wind up with similar builds if Adonis can add some weight to his frame. As Adonis competes in the DSL and beyond, I’ll attempt to compare his stats to those of Felix, to Jhoulys Chacin, to Jays prospects Deivy Estrada, and also Adys Portillo who is also from Venezuela and a couple of steps ahead of him. It should provide Jays fans with a good indication of where Adonis stands in both talent and progression.

Although Adonis is sure to begin the season in the DSL, he will likely move quickly from there and jump a level each time if he dominates as expected. We would have loved to have a track record of some sort to go by in order to place him higher on our list because his ceiling is a truly great one. Jays fans should be extremely excited to have him on board as one of the best pitching prospects to follow from now into the foreseeable future, and he could make his Toronto Blue Jays debut in 2014 if his own prediction is correct.

Expected 2011 Team: DSL Blue Jays

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: #1 Starter

If we had just a few starts of stats to go by in terms of his talent, we could have made the case for his being ranked higher on this list due to his overall ceiling. We expect him to break the top 15 as a minimum in 2012′s version of the Top 50 Jays prospects, and he’s a great reason to keep watching the box scores from the DSL Blue Jays in 2011. He has the stuff on the mound, he has the baseball pedigree, he has the confidence, and now he’s got the Blue Jays along for the ride to develop his tools. It should be a great ride and a great start to a new era of Jays international signings.

- MG

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Topics: Adeiny Hechavarria, Adonis Cardona, Gabriel Cenas

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  • Stump

    Young pitchers are very difficult to evaluate because of the ever present risk of injury to their young and vulnerable pitching arms.

    If the Jays can nurse Adonis along slowly and protect that valuable asset, I think we could see a pitching phenom in 4 or 5 years. If Adonis progresses to AA ball in 3 years, then we undoubtedly have a real pitching star in our system.

    Buena suerte Adonis!

  • Mylegacy

    One of the wonderful pleasures of being a fan of the Jays since 1983 has been watching their (our/my) babies grow up to be men. Adonis has rare talent. Much can go wrong. But – much is expected. Hopefully the stars align for him, the Jays and we long suffering fans!

  • http://www.jayjournal.com Jared Macdonald

    Agreed about the excitement on Cardona, especially given the fact that the kid just turned 17 years old and he hits 93 mph with his heater.

    Hopefully the Jays ease him along slowly, but regardless it’s going to be really exciting to watch him develop!

  • http://www.thesportsloop.com Robbie

    Excited to catch a glimpse of him. Big frame with a power arm – keep an eye on this kid. I hope to see him in Vancouver with the Canadians.

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