Elliott: Will Jays benefit from Canada-Brazil relations like Jose Pett?

NEWS ITEM: “Coming in at No. 5 is Eric Pardinho, the new face of baseball in Brazil. The right-handed pitcher with World Baseball Classic experience and an advanced approach on the mound, is expected to sign with the Blue Jays.”

   _ MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.

ICYMI: Brazilian Pett gets record bonus


By Bob Elliott
Sccout Wayne Morgan’s mandate was simple: search the world for talent.

Leaving no stone unturned, the Blue Jays’ international scouting director signed right-hander Jose Pett, 16, of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The first Brazilian to sign a pro contract received a club-record bonus of $700,000. How long will Pett, who was signed on Thursday, be No. 1? Probably only until the Jays sign outfielder Shea Morenz, their sixth-round pick in this year’s draft.

Jays general manager Pat Gillick and his assistant, Al Widmar, took a 10 1/2-hour flight south to Sao Paulo, where they were met by Latin scout Epy Guerrero and Morgan. They weren’t the only ones interested in the 6-foot-6, 195-pounder.

Besides the Jays, representatives from the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins and Houston Astros were there, making the Brazilton Hotel resemble a mini-winter meetings. Negotiations weren’t easy, since the Pett family speaks only Portuguese.

The gathering of execs occurred because Thursday was the first day clubs were allowed to sign 16-year-olds to contracts for the 1993 season.

Adimar Pett set a 6 p.m. deadline for reaching a decision on his son. The Jays met early Thursday with the family and requested a final meeting at 5:55. After the Jays’ first meeting, the Petts spent more than an hour with the Braves.

‘’The longer they talked, the worse shape we thought we were in,’’ said Morgan. ‘’But his father didn’t budge. He said Atlanta made the same offer, but the boy chose Toronto because the city is more European and because of our past relationship.’’

And because the Braves bonus would be taxed at source, due to a US-Brazil treaty, while the Jays benefitted because no such tax-at-source deal existed at the team between Canada and Brazil.

Morgan tracked Pett for seven months. He made three trips to Brazil and followed one of Pett’s many teams on a tour of Japan. The blond-haired, blue-eyed pitcher of Dutch decent stood out on the touring club, which was composed of two other Brazilians and transplanted Japanese.

Only 16,000 baseball players are registered in Brazil.

Oddly enough, Morgan was tipped to Pett by a friend of his, Peter Worboys, who spotted the Brazilian touring Australia last December. Morgan made his first trip to Brazil in February.

Pett is projected as a hard thrower. He has been clocked at 88 miles per hour.

‘’He came through the Japanese system,’’ said Morgan. ‘’They throw a lot more often in a week than our pitchers. I can see him throwing harder when he gets on a regular (rotation, with appropriate rest), like our starters.’’

Pett should grow some. His father is 6-foot-8, 350 pounds; his mother is 6-foot-4; and his sister, one of the country’s best softball pitchers, is 6-foot-2, 175 pounds.

Name Round Year Amount

RHP Jose Pett Undrafted ‘92 $700,000

OF Shawn Green 1st ‘91 $580,000

1B John Olerud 3rd ‘89 $575,000

OF Shannon Stewart 1st ‘92 $450,000

OF Todd Steverson 1st ‘92 $450,000

3B Chris Weinke 2nd ‘90 $370,000

RHP Jeff Ware 2nd ‘91 $337,500

RHP Steve Karsay 1st ‘90 $325,000

Post Script: Pett made his debut in  1993 with the rookie-class Gulf Cost Blue Jays, then moved on to class-A Dunedin, double-A Knoxville and triple-A Syracuse in 1996 going 2-9 with a 5.83 ERA. 

Pett was part of the blockbuster trade GM Gord Ash made with Pittsburgh Pirates Cam Bonifay. The Jays acquired reliever RP Dan Plesac, 2B Carlos Garcia and RF Orlando Merced for RHP Jose Silva, INF Brandon Cromer, LHP Mike Halperin, INF Abraham Nunez (December 11, 1996) and OF Craig Wilson at the 1996 GM’s meeting in Phoenix.  

In six seasons in the minors, including one season in the Pirates system and a comeback bid with the Cleveland Indians, he was 23-36 with a 4.52 ERA in 90 games, making 86 starts. Pett walked 156 and fanned 282 in 485 1/3 innings.

Morenz did not sign attended the University of Texas and played quarterback for the Longhorns. He was drafted in the first round in 1995 (27th over-all) by the New York Yankees.