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Prospect of the Week: Roberto Osuna

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In the second installment of the series, we look at Mexican Roberto Osuna who ended last year in low-A Vancouver.

The man responsible for locking up Osuna when he was just 16.
The man responsible for locking up Osuna when he was just 16.
Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Hello everyone, back with another Prospect of the Week. This time Roberto Osuna will be spotlighted, by commenter request. Osuna will be filling the void of high ceiling Jays’ pitching prospects that was left by the trades of Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino this past off-season. Osuna was born in Mexico on February 7, 1995 and played in his home country all the way until this past year. The Jays signed him at the age of 16 during the summer of 2011 for 1.5 million dollars. He was relatively unknown to fans but quickly made noise with consistent impressive outings during this past season. Osuna started out 2012 in Bluefield (rookie ball) appearing in seven games. He was then called up to low-A ball in Vancouver where he started five games and ended with a 3.20 ERA and a crazy K/9 of 11.4.

You might remember Osuna’s Vancouver debut where he struck out 13 of the 19 batters that come to the plate against him. Performances like that have rocketed him up prospect rankings and have placed a lot more eyeballs on him than when he first came from Mexico.

Pitches

Fastball- Osuna throws the fastball most often and averages low to mid 90’s with the pitch. The command of it is pretty good and according to scouts it projects to be a plus pitch in the future. At about 6’2" and 225(ish) pounds it’s hard to see him adding much more velocity to his fastball as he matures although there’s a good chance he refines the command.

You can see him throw his fastball (a lot) in this video from his Vancouver debut:

Blue Jays Prospect Roberto Osuna NWL Debut Video (via MLBDirt)

Change-up- Osuna throws a split change in the 80mph area and is a great change of pace from his fastball. John Sickels projects the change-up (along with the fastball and slider) as above average major league pitches. At such a young age it’s quite impressive, not to mention rare, that a pitcher already has three pitches so far along in the development process.

Slider/Curve- The third pitch of Osuna’s has been thrown around as a slider, curve, or slurve but more importantly it projects as an above average pitch, along with his other two pitches. There isn’t a lot of great video online of Osuna so it’s hard to get a very good idea of how well he uses all three pitches in his repertoire, but if first-hand accounts are anything to go by all three offerings are consistently thrown for strikes.

Here’s a video of Osuna from minor league spring training this year. Near the end of the video he throws some off-speed pitches but it isn’t exactly award winning camera work:

Roberto Osuna, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (via MLBProspectPortal)

Concerns

With Osuna, there isn’t a whole lot to be worried about in terms of command or pitches but with his young age comes a huge amount of risk. Osuna is realistically four or more years from the majors and a lot can happen in that time. Scouts seem to think most of his physical maturing is complete and his body is close to being a finished product. With that said, a lot of Osuna’s future success will depend on how he polishes his game and gets used to his body. It’s been suggested that if he wants to go deeper into games as a starter, additional focus on conditioning could be in order. A polishing of his control will also likely be an area of interest this year as his 4.1 BB/9 definitely leaves room for improvement.

Outlook

Roberto Osuna will almost certainly start the year in A-ball Lansing and may end up in high-A by the end of the year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he spent the whole year in the great state of Michigan. With the additional pressure of being one of the organization’s top three prospects, fans should be looking for Osuna to keep his strikeout rate high while hopefully lowering his walk rate a little bit. The end of 2014 or beginning of 2015 would be a good guess of when we will see Osuna pitching in the majors if everything goes according to plan.