Right-handed pitcher Roberto Osuna is the nephew of former major league journeyman reliever Antonio Osuna. He is a recent international free agent signing of the Toronto Blue Jays. He has already played professional baseball in the Mexican League, and most notably, he just recently turned 17 years old.
The nephew Osuna held his own in the Mexican League last year, his first year of professional baseball. Some consider the Mexican League to be of comparable talent to AAA. Others speculate that the talent pool lies somewhere between AA and AAA. Regardless, it is classified as a AAA professional league. He was not fantastic, appearing in 13 games and starting 2, amassing a 5.49 ERA in 19.2 innings, giving up 25 hits, allowing 11 walks and fanning 12. His first endeavor into professional baseball, however, came at just 16 years of age. The average position player in the Mexican League last year, when Osuna played for Diablos Rojos del Mexico, was 29.9 years of age and the average pitcher was 28.8.
Osuna held his ground against a league of grown men. He also possesses the stature of a man, standing 6’2” and weighing in at 230 pounds. Some have speculated that his body is not ideal, but big-bodied pitchers are certainly capable of succeeding in the major leagues, as we’ve seen time and time again. At this point, he’s got the body of a big boy, not a big man, meaning that he’s yet to tone his body. A few years of training with professional baseball trainers and coaches should change that soon enough, and early reports out of Bluefield indicate that he’s in better shape than expected.
More exciting than the immature body of Osuna is his impressive repertoire of pitches. Last year, his fastball reportedly sat between 88-90 MPH and touched 92 at times. Thus far in Bluefield, his fastball has been cited to sit at 91 MPH, at times touching 93 and 94. Even last year, before his signing with the Blue Jays, it was speculated that he had room for some added velocity on his fastball due to a quick arm and a fluid delivery. Thus far for Bluefield, Osuna has flashed a low 80s slider and a good high 70s changeup. The changeup is a more advanced pitch for Osuna at this point, as it has a splitter like movement with good late break.
Osuna’s biggest problem at this point is the consistency of his delivery. In the past he has tended to alter his delivery for his off-speed pitches, leading to tipped pitches and, naturally, getting hit. Fortunately, the pitches themselves are impressive and the delivery issue is likely one of immaturity and lack of polish.
Osuna has begun his career in the Blue Jays’ organization playing in the Appalachian Rookie League for the Bluefield Blue Jays. He has now pitched 6 innings without giving up an earned run (he did give up 1 run, thanks to 2 errors from SS Dickie Thon Jr.). Thus far, he’s made just 2 appearances, making 1 start. He’s given up just 2 hits, has yet to walk a batter, and has fanned 7.
It’s still extremely early, but that’s kind of the point of this column. After all, it is called Premature Excitation. Throughout the year I’ll be keeping tabs on Osuna and will be sure to give him special consideration in regular prospect updates. He should be an exciting pitcher to keep up with as he gains both physical and mechanical maturity, and hopefully we will one day be watching him as an anchor in a strong Blue Jays’ rotation.
Premature Excitation is a new column/project that I have decided to embark on in which I will attempt to get Blue Jays nation, and prospect followers everywhere, excited about young prospects far before we have any concrete idea of how successful they will be as they move through the system. It will be all the more rewarding when the prospects covered here achieve success at higher levels and, eventually, reach the major leagues. I hope that you enjoy following their journey as much as I do.