At number 16 on the top 30 prospect list, we’re entering the section where you’ll really start to see potentially elite talent. Many – including this prospect – have a ton of risk attached, but this is the area that made Toronto one of the best farm systems in baseball over the last couple of years – enviable depth with monster ceilings.
Name: Adonys Cardona
Position: Right Handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 01/16/1994 (19)
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent in July 2010 ($2,800,000 USD)
High School: N/A
Height/Weight: 6’1”/170 lbs
Awards and Accomplishments:
- Ranked 11th on 2012 top 30 prospects list
2012 Statistics and Analysis
0-1, 15.2 IP, 15 H, 11 ER, 1 HR, 10 BB, 20 K
6.32 ERA (3.58 FIP), 1.60 WHIP, 11.49 K/9, 5.74 BB/9, 1.25 GO/AO
Adonys Cardona had a very good professional debut with the Gulf Coast Blue Jays in 2011, which led many – myself included – to believe he’d spend the 2012 season in Bluefield or Vancouver. If the Blue Jays had plans of doing so, they were quickly put on hold during the spring when Cardona went through some arm soreness. At just 18 years old, the organization felt no need to push Cardona, instead choosing to hold him back in Florida where they could keep a better eye on him through the entirety of the season. The results obviously weren’t where they were expected to be, as Cardona struggled mightily, particularly in the control aspect of his game. Despite being limited to a three-inning maximum, he walked batters in six of his eight appearances, for a rather unsightly 5.74 BB/9. The strikeout rate remained strong, as after punching out 35 batters in 31.2 innings in 2011, he struck out another 20 in just 15.2 innings this past season. That number really speaks to the quality of his stuff, as even when he has no real idea where his pitches are going, he can still generate swings and misses.
Video (via MLBProspectPortal.com)
Adonys Cardona is listed at 6-foot-1, but I’m not entirely sure I buy that measurement. He looks much bigger on the mound, and he complements the height with an overhand arm slot. By coming over the top, he creates a natural downward plane on his pitches, which is an excellent choice for a pitcher whose repertoire focuses more on vertical movement than horizontal. The mechanics are sound, as Cardona has a smooth and easy arm action that makes it appear as though the ball is flying out of his hand.
Pitch Arsenal Breakdown
Like almost every 19 year old pitcher, Cardona’s pitch arsenal is built around a power fastball. The four seam offering regularly clocks in the 90-95 mph range, which is a significant improvement upon years past. When he originally signed, Cardona sat between 86-90 miles per hour, but as he’s grown physically, the velocity has grown with him. There’s potential for even more growth with the pitch, as Cardona is still just a teenager and has some room on his frame to add muscle mass. Beyond the velocity, the heater has impressive explosion and life. The ball explodes out of his hand thanks to the aforementioned easy arm action, and the fastball is very heavy because of the overhand release and the sinking motion he adds to the pitch. Overall, the fastball has at least plus potential, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it grades out as plus-plus in his twenties.
Cardona features a pair of offspeed pitches, and while both have been impressive at times, consistency remains a glaring flaw. His primary breaking ball is a near 12-to-6 curveball that has big break and is thrown with good velocity. He can get impressive spin rotation on the pitch, generating sharp, late bite. Cardona’s biggest issue with the curveball is consistent location, which leads back to a mechanical flaw. He has a tendency to release the pitch early, which not only causes it to be up in the zone more often than it should be, but it makes it easier to discern from the fastball and make an adjustment. While it’s presently below average, most feel it has the potential to be a plus pitch if he cleans things up, as it meshes very well with his overhand arm slot. Rounding out the arsenal is a straight changeup. It’s definitely a work in progress, but considering Cardona just completed his age 18 season – when most pitchers are still in high school – it’s fairly advanced. His natural arm action creates a lot of deception, and he has good velocity separation from the fastball while throwing the change in the low 80’s. He’s still struggling with location and to find the balance between firmness and fade, but overall the pitch has above average potential and should be an effective weapon against lefties.
The perfect world projection for Adonys Cardona would be a number two or three starter, but if durability issues remain a long term problem, he could be an elite reliever.
2013 Outlook, Risk, and ETA
Cardona’s main focus for 2013 needs to be staying healthy and building arm strength, as he went backwards in both aspects last season. Given his inning limitations of 2012, he should find himself in a piggy backing system with the Bluefield Blue Jays to open the summer. If things progress as hoped, Cardona should see Vancouver at some point in August, as the organization has put an emphasis on sending elite prospects there before shuttling them off to Lansing the following year. 40-50 innings in 2013 may be the goal for both the player and organization. The process is going to be a slow one, and the risk with Cardona is most definitely in the extreme category. The best case scenario for ETA would be the second half of 2017, and while that seems extremely far away, remember that Cardona will only be 23 at that point. He’s still extremely young, and patience is of the utmost importance.