2013 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects: #2 Roberto ‘The Boss’ Osuna


If this piece had been done on time, prior to the 2013 season, it probably would have been one of the most glowing articles of the thirty, full of talk about aggressively promoting a very young, but polished pitcher.  Unfortunately, after an excellent start to his first full season, a torn UCL brought all those hopes and dreams crashing down like a lead balloon.  Our number two top prospect should be back pitching somewhere in the Jays system next year, and at only nineteen, he’ll still be quite young for whatever level he ends up at.  Still, with the season the Jays have had this year, it’s hard not to be depressed when one of your top prospects has Tommy John surgery.

Name: Roberto Osuna” href=”http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=osuna-002rob&utm_campaign=Linker&utm_source=direct&utm_medium=linker-postmediavancouversun.wordpress.com” target=”_blank”>Roberto Osuna
Position: Right Handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 07/02/1995 (18)
Acquired: 2011, Signed as International Free Agent out of Mexico ($1,500,000 USD)
High School: I can’t find this information, sorry
College: N/A
Height/Weight: 6’2”/230 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R

Awards and Accomplishments:

Pre-2013 Rated #90 prospect by mlb.com

Pre-213 Rated 4th on Blue Jays (pre-trade) Fangraphs Top 15

Ranked 27 on 2012′s Jays Journal Top 30

2012/13 Stats and Anaylysis:

Year Age Tm Lg ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2012 17 Bluefield APPY 1.50 4 24.0 18 5 4 1 6 24 1.000 6.8 0.4 2.2 9.0 4.00
2012 17 Vancouver NORW 3.20 5 19.2 14 9 7 1 9 25 1.169 6.4 0.5 4.1 11.4 2.78
2013 18 Lansing MIDW 5.53 10 42.1 39 28 26 6 11 51 1.181 8.3 1.3 2.3 10.8 4.64
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/10/2013.

Despite the healthy numbers in Bluefield (in what was a pretty aggressive assignment) Osuna burst on to the prospect scene when he sat down thirteen of the nineteen Everett hitters he faced on his Northwest League debut.  I’d forgotten that Marcus Stroman followed him that game, striking out two over two innings pitched.  What a wet dream that game was for prospectors.

That start generated a lot of buzz amongst the prospect community, with numerous write ups on the Mexican right-hander in a short amount of time.  Getting lost in the shuffle somewhat was his playoff performance for the C’s.  I got to watch him in the West Division final against the same Aquasox team, and he was equally as brilliant, striking out six over three innings.  He then went on to throw five shutout innings with a mere two hits and nine punch outs in game two of the Northwest League finals.  The kid was a beast last year.

This year, prior to getting hurt, things weren’t so bad either:

Split GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
April 5 23.0 15 10 9 4 4 31 0.826 12.1 7.75
June 4 18.1 14 11 10 1 7 17 1.145 8.3 2.43
July 1 1.2 10 7 7 1 0 3 6.000 16.2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/17/2013.

His last start in April was on the 30th and he didn’t make another start until the 9th of June.  If you want to dig even deeper, the first two starts he made after rehabbing the injured elbow were great, giving up one earned over eleven innings pitched, with eleven strike-outs versus only the one walk.  Osuna obviously felt something that second start though, as he was given additional rest before going again, and from there it was all downhill.

What stands out from the numbers (when healthy) is Osuna’s ability to miss bats while not putting runners on via the walk.  It’ll be interesting to see where is K/BB ratio sits upon his return.

Delivery Mechanics:

Every scouting report you read on Roberto mentions the ‘smooth, easy, repeatable delivery’.  Of course, what we know now.  He comes in from a high 3/4 slot, using his legs well to go north/south on a straight line to home.  He also uses a higher front side which helps hide the ball and adds a bit more deception to his offerings

I’m sure I read (amidst all the hype of last year) one dissenting opinion which stated that his arm had a tendency to drag, causing possible elbow problems down the road.  The scout I was reading was quick to point out that he was still very high on Osuna, it was just something to bear in mind.  Two things, one, you’ll have to trust me that I did read that article as, for the life of me, I can’t find it again.  And two, how very prescient of that particular writer.

Pitch Arsenal Breakdown

Roberto throws three pitches, which, based on the scouting reports I’ve read, all project to be plus pitches.  His fastball is

Osuna delivers a pitch for the Vancouver Canadians (Image courtesy Battersbox.ca)

Osuna delivers a pitch for the Vancouver Canadians (Image courtesy Battersbox.ca)

exceptional, sitting in the low 90s with the ability to get it up to mid/high 90s when needed.  What impressed me watching him was fact that he never threw two the same speed.  That speaks to the ‘pitchability’ that many talk about when discussing Osuna.

His change is probably the next best pitch.  It has a distinct late splitter movement, breaking down and in to right handers.  I saw it make a lot of hitters in the game I watched look foolish.  He throws it from the same arm slot as his fast ball, and, as mentioned above, the higher front side adds to the deceptiveness of the pitch.

The curve ball was described as ‘slurvey’.  This was the pitch that needed the most work.  I haven’t been able to get any concrete reports from Lansing as to whether improvements have been made.

If Osuna can get on top of the breaking ball then he will have a very advanced three pitch arsenal, with excellent control.

Risk, and ETA

The risk is pretty obvious.  I believe the full recover rate from Tommy John surgery is now in the low 90s per centile, still, you’d rather he didn’t have to have it.  He’s still very young, and given his maturity as a pitcher, I can’t see much risk as far as getting left behind if and when he does return.

ETA?  That’s a tougher one.  Let’s say he returns to Lansing in the later part of 2014.  Dunedin the following year.  Provided all goes well I’d say the earliest we can reasonably expect to see Osuna in a Jays uniform would be 2017.  Earliest he gets traded? 2015.

Tags: Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects