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Aspiring Jays: Osuna Down!

This week's edition of Aspiring Jays deals with the bad news that came out thursday: Roberto Osuna has been shut down and may need Tommy John surgery..

A visual representation of the Toronto Blue Jays 2013 season
A visual representation of the Toronto Blue Jays 2013 season

You've probably heard the bad news regarding top (perhaps not number one, but certainly top 3 in the system) prospect Roberto Osuna, as Minor Leaguer wrote about it on Thursday. This news would probably not have been quite as devastating to Blue Jays fans if the big league team's rotation hadn't been almost entirely taken down by injuries or ineffectiveness, but as it is, many of us feel quite miserable about the year 2013 right now. While under normal circumstances this news would have been received with the rational thought "he's only 18, this is a setback, sure, but he'll make it to the big leagues", these are not normal circumstances and right now the reaction among fans is probably more like "why us? why oh why?".

So if Osuna does indeed need Tommy John surgery, how do we expect that to affect him? These days it seems like every pitcher in baseball goes under the knife at some point, and Tommy John surgery has a well established track record of pitchers returning to former glory. But quoting the famous surgeon Dr. James Andrews from an LA Times article:

"People think it's 100% successful," Andrews said. "It's not."

It's apparently more around 85%, and I don't think that's counting the pitchers who just don't get their command back fully and lose effectiveness because of the injury. So it's definitely bad news, even if we can still be hopeful that Osuna recovers fully, given enough time.

There's more cause for worry, though. I'd encourage you to read this ESPN article, as it explains very well why Osuna might be in big trouble. The basic point is that the Tommy John surgery wouldn't fix the problem in Osuna's delivery, assuming he has one. And there might be, as FanGraphs' Kiley McDaniel has pointed out that Osuna shares a biomechanical flaw in his delivery with Mark Prior, who was/is mostly known for his inability to stay healthy. If Osuna keeps his delivery, he could get injured repeatedly, which is of course a big worry. If he has to change his delivery because of these concerns, it could hurt his effectiveness. If the experts do believe that Osuna has a flawed delivery, it would probably be best to change it now that he's still young. After all, the Jays don't want Osuna's major league service time to be dominated by injuries.

It's sad news for prospect enthusiasts, because Roberto Osuna was one of the best performing pitchers out there. At just 18 years of age he was dominating hitters in the Midwest League, as they struck out 35% of the time, which is nuts. Bonkers. You get the idea. He also walked very few hitters, and was able to induce a groundball 56% of the time, which is a good sign as well. Oddly, he still gave up 4 homers over his 5 starts, which meant his ERA was "just" 3.63 and not some insanely dominant number. There seems to be little reason to worry over those home runs though, as Osuna was missing a lot of bats and hitters were not hitting the ball in the air off of him a lot. It really is too bad he now has to discontinue the battle with Aaron Sanchez for number one prospect in the system, as it seems very likely that Sanchez will run away with that 'title' for the moment. If Sanchez stays healthy himself, of course. *Knocks on wood*

In the meantime / Others:

-Jim Negrych (AAA) hit .429/.486/.683 in April. So far, he's hitting .432/.476/.649 in May.

-Anthony Gose homered for the second time this season yesterday. He leads the team in walks, but also in strikeouts. .238/.350/.352

-Dave Bush has given up 7 home runs in 6 games for Buffalo. He gave up two in one game to Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, who had not yet homered this season. I do not quite know how Mr. Bush turns pitched baseballs into home runs so often, but one has to admire it, probably.

-Kevin Pillar's hitting .331/.380/.470 for New Hampshire. Still not quite sure what to make of him.

-In just his fifth game back from Tommy John surgery, A.J. Jimenez had to come out of the game on May 7 and hasn't played since.

-Aaron Sanchez continues to be awesome for Dunedin. In 34 2/3 innings, he has 34 strikeouts, 10 walks and a 2.60 ERA. His groundball rate is very good, too, at 61%.