"His changeup is outstanding," GCL pitching coach John Wesley said emphatically. "It is above major league average. I mean it is outstanding."
The 17-year-old right right-hander from La Sabana, Venezuela utilizes the changeup as his out-pitch, saying that he feels comfortable throwing it in any count. Cardona has two other pitches to go along with the changeup — a fastball/sinker and curveball.
"I want to improve my curveball and the location of my fastball," Cardona said with the help of a translator.
In ten outings this season, seven of them starts, Cardona tallied 31.2 innings and maintained a 4.55 ERA. He had a strikeout to walk ratio of 35:12 and opponents batted .256 off of him. Wesley assessed how Cardona pitched in Dunedin throughout the short season.
"He's coming along great. He's up to 96 [miles per hour] already. He had three or four outings in a row that were just outstanding," Wesley said, noting that it was his most recent four outings that were a success. In those games, Cardona pitched 14.2 innings and gave up five runs while striking out 18.
"He's starting to put it together; he's starting to come along," Wesley added. "It's very exciting to see such a young kid being able to do what he can do."
Cardona also expressed his thoughts on the season.
"I feel good. I've been learning throughout the season little by little and improving on things," he said through the help of a translator.
A fastball in the mid-90s doesn't always get a pitcher through a game if he can't locate his pitches well. While Cardona has kept his walk total low, Wesley explained that the righty is not always consistent with his location, which is something that will improve as he gets older and gains experience.
"He's young, it's inconsistent. There could be two really bad misses, and then six good strikes," Wesley said. "It's just inconsistent. It could be a bad hitter or a good hitter. It could be two good innings, one bad inning. It just all depends on the day, but it's all there and it's starting to come together."
Cardona's fastball is the pitch that does tend to get hit the most often, according to Wesley. He needs to focus on keeping it down in the zone more often.
"What gets hit the most is his fastball when it's not down — when he just leaves it up over the plate," Wesley said. "His curveball isn't great yet. It needs work, but he locates it down most of the time. He doesn't hang it that often, so most of the pitches that he gives up that get hit hard are just his fastball [when] it's just up out over the plate."
As Caronda finishes an overall impressive inaugural campaign, Wesley sees plenty of upside in the right-hander. The part of his game that needs most improvement at this point is something that will come along with time.
"He's gotta mature physically. He's gotta just start throwing more and more innings," Wesley stated. "You can't just jump on a young guy like that and have him throw 100 innings his first year out. It's gotta be very controlled so he doesn't break down.
"He's such a go-getter; he wants to do so much that you gotta constantly back him off. He just wants to be so good."
Cardona Very Advanced
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