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Mariners rumored to have signed well-regarded Venezuela RHP prospect Kristian Cardozo

A reported last-minute switcheroo may have landed Seattle a top-notch arm.

MLB Pipeline

Previously linked to and even listed as a Dodgers signee, the Mariners may have swooped one of the best pitchers in the 2019 July 2 International Amateur class.

Only Jesse Sanchez has shared this information, making it difficult to verify fully. Sanchez is an employee of MLB and consistently reliable as a reporter, so there’s no reason to doubt his information, but anything reported only in one location is tough to go on. Then again, this is the nature of IFA reporting, and Sanchez reporting even the financial details of the deal seem to lend it credence. According to Sanchez, the Dodgers had a handshake deal with RHP Kristian Cardozo, however late in the game it fell apart, potentially as L.A. sought to skim some cash away to secure Top-5 signee OF Luis Rodriguez and a few other notable youths. Whatever it was, the Mariners saw a chance to swoop in and add a high-potential hurler.

If Sanchez is correct, this is a significant get for Seattle. After going big the past couple years with two of the most well-regarded names on the market in Julio Rodriguez (‘17) and Noelvi Marte (‘18), the Mariners went wide with their approach this year. We reported every signing that we could track down back in early July, but Cardozo would appear to be the jewel of the class by most scouts’ estimations. He’s a 6’2, 180 lbs RHP from Venezuela with a low-effort motion that yields good arm-side movement on both his fastball and changeup.

Sanchez reported that as of this summer Cardozo is up to 92-mph on his fastball and maintained 90-mph through 5+ inning starts, which bodes well for a 16-year-old. His changeup is reportedly in the low-80s, and he works a sharp breaking ball in the mid-70s as well, with preternatural command for his age. The combination is a well-balanced prospect that could continue to grow, particularly as he’s two years younger than nearly any players drafted this June. Cardozo ranked 21st on the IFA lists of both FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline, and is a favorite of Ben Badler’s at Baseball America. He’s probably a talent who would fit in the back of the Mariners top-30 prospects right now, probably in our Red range.