In recent years, we've seen Mariner scouting ramp up in the Caribbean and South America. Especially on the pitching side, the team looks to set up the next wave of arms in the system. One thing to keep in mind is while most of these arms have some considerable upside, they can take years to find their footing. Right-hander Kristian Cardozo is one of those late bloomers.
The Mariners signed the Venezuelan pitcher in the 2019 international signing period. initial scouting reports praised Cardozo for his curveball (50) and command/control (50/55), which continue to be his calling card.
Cardozo spent his first two seasons in the Dominican Summer League and had mixed results, flashing some intriguing pitches but never aligning them with the metrics. He combined for a 4.20 ERA and nearly nine hits per nine innings during the DSL seasons. However, the Mariners moved him to the Arizona Complex League last season, and he showed some promise.
The walks and the ERA (6.51) are still high, but the exciting thing happened last season. The Mariners' development staff moved Cardozo to the bullpen, hoping to see an uptick in his already solid arsenal, and the results were spectacular. He served as a bulk inning arm for the ACL Mariners and had his best season to date. The 20-year-old had his highest strikeout per nine rate (9.6) and hovered around a 1.50 WHIP for most of the year.
Now that Cardozo is slotted into a bullpen role look for him to make a couple of jumps up the ladder, possibly finishing 2024 in Everett,