The Toronto Blue Jays have signed 16-year-old Brazilian pitcher Eric Pardinho to a deal worth $1.4 million, making him the highest-paid Brazilian prospect ever.
The signing took place Thursday afternoon at the Hilton Hotel Morumbi in Sao Paulo, and was confirmed to ESPN by a Blue Jays source.
Leading up to the beginning of the international signing period on Sunday, Pardinho was considered one of the top pitchers available. In May, MLB.com ranked him as the No. 5 prospect overall, and the only hurler among the top 26.
Last September at the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Brooklyn, the 5-foot-10 right-hander pitched for the Brazilian team as a 15-year-old. In two-thirds of an inning against Pakistan, he allowed one hit, one walk and no runs, and his fastball was clocked at 94 mph.
Toronto was thought to be the front-runner for Pardinho's services, but the deal was not signed until Thursday. Although just three Brazilian players have ever reached the majors, the Blue Jays have connections to the world's fifth-largest country.
In 2009, Toronto drafted Brazilian-born catcher Yan Gomes, who became the first big leaguer from his country when he debuted with Toronto in 2012. Long before that, in 1992, the Blue Jays became the first MLB team to test the Brazilian market when they inked 6-foot-6 hurler Jose Pett for a then-record $700,000.
Prior to signing Pardinho, the current high-water mark for a Brazilian was the $880,000 that the Seattle Mariners gave lefty Luiz Gohara, now a top prospect with the Braves.
The international signing period applies to non-American and non-Puerto Rican players who are not eligible for MLB's amateur draft and are at least 16 years old as of July 2.