Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top 20 Prospects: #3 Roberto Osuna RHP

Editors note:
Just a quick update before the article gets started. Due to the R.A Dickey trade, our number 1 and 3 prospects are no longer in the organization, so we will not be ranking them. Because of this, each of our  past posts will be moved up 2 rankings, as well as the next 2, which will bring our total to 18 prospects ranked. In order to finish the top 20, we will add 2 more rankings, after we do #1. Those articles should be up next week. On to Osuna!

Born: February 7, 1995 in Juan Jose Rios, Sinaloa, Mexico
Acquired via: International Signing 2010 for  $1.5 Million
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6’2”, Weight: 230 lbs
Baseball America Rank: #6 Pre-Dickey & Marlins Trade, Now #2
Baseball Prospectus Rank: #6 Pre-Dickey Trade, Now #4
Fangraphs Rank: #4 Pre-Dickey Trade, Now #2
MLB.com Rank (Jonathan Mayo): #3 Up to Date
Minor League Ball: #4 pre trade, #2 now

2012 Stats & Analysis:
Bluefield (Rk)
Vancouver (A-)

Overview: The nephew of former Dodgers reliever Antonio Osuna, first got noticed in 2010, when he signed a 7 figure deal as a 16 year old out of Mexico.  For the first year, like most 16 year olds he skated under the radar, while making limited appearances on loan to a Mexican league team.  However, he announced his arrival with a bang this year.
            While making his state side debut, he began in Bluefield in the Appalachian league, and his first 4 appearances were very impressive, posting a line of 12 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 14 Ks, and most importantly 0 walks.  After a few more appearances, he earned a very early promotion to Vancouver in the college heavy Northwest League. 
            This was a very aggressive, and somewhat surprising promotion. Osuna was one of only 2 17 year olds to play in the league (along with Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez), and one of fewer than a dozen under the age of 19.  However that didn’t stop him from twirling one of the true gems of the minor league season in his debut at Vancouver.
            As a 17 year old, it was a stretch to expect much from him.  He was going up against an Everett lineup chocked full of 20 year old college players, including 3 of the top 7 hitters in the league (notably league’s best hitter, the past year’s #3 overall pick, in Catcher Mike Zunino).  However these hitters were no match for Osuna.  He went a full 5 innings (the longest in his professional career), allowed just 1 hit, walked just 1, didn’t allow any runs, and astonishingly struck out 13 of the 17 batters he faced. 
            The rest of his season at Vancouver was up and down, but he ended the season with his 2nd best start as a professional.  Again on the road, this time in Boise he again went 5 full innings, this time allowing just 2 hits, but no walks, and another equally impressive 9 strikeouts.  Its positive to see that even after his first season pro ball, he was able to close the season out strongly.  That bodes very well for his progress going into next season.

Scouting Report: Osuna features are mature beyond his years, as he is equipped with a 3 pitch arsenal which has shown significant progression in the past 12 months.
-Fastball: His fastball already shows plus velocity, normally sitting 90-92 MPH     and touching 94.  He’s shown improved feel with the fastball, competently adding and subtracting velocity based on the situation. 
- Cut Fastball: This season he’s introduced a capable cut fastball, that shows plus movement, and is a very positive sign, as it could allow him to increase his pitch efficiency.
- Changeup: For a young pitcher, the feel he shows for his changeup is well beyond his years. The pitch already has shown the ability to be a plus (65- grade) pitch, with late darting action, which he can use very effectively against left handed batters.
- Slider: The biggest development Osuna has shown this year is his ability to spin his breaking ball.  He came into the year, with a very raw pitch, which lacked bite, and sat 80-82 MPH.  Now as he comes out of Fall instructs, the reports on that pitch have changed dramatically.  The pitch now sits at 82-85 MPH, and shows tremendous break, both vertically, and horizontally. It hass emerged as a true two plane, out pitch, which could            allow him to dominate as he moves up the ladder.
If Osuna was American, he wouldn’t be eligible for the draft until this upcoming 2014 Draft, and based on the initial reports, Osuna would likely be the top rated High School pitcher in this draft.  Given that, its really astounding that he’s put up a quality half season in a league dominated by college draft picks.
While his arsenal shows a lot of promise, that’s not to suggest that there aren’t reasons to be concerned. 
The first of these concerns is something he can do very little about, and its his Mexican genealogy.  Not to be insensitive, but Mexicans tend to have the type of body type that doesn’t age particularly well and is generally shorter, and to put it politely, rounder than most other races.  His body is already very mature, and doesn’t show much more projection (which is rare for a player that age), so he’s going to have to watch his conditioning as he ages.  This is a bias that Osuna is going to have to battle against his entire career.  This isn’t to say that he cant be successful, but it is a something to watch out for.
The next concern is about his mechanics.  There are two flags to be raised around his deliver.  The first is his high elbow as he lands his plant foot.  Previously, pitchers such as Mark Prior who sustained injuries have had a similar delivery blamed for those injuries. 
The other red flag has been the perceived high amount of torque that Osuna puts on his shoulder.  This is another very vague ‘problem’ that many pitchers have, most consider that Osuna’s strong lower half is enough to compensate that, however these are things that require noting.

2013 Outlook:
            Osuna will start 2013, where he left off last season, in short season A ball Vancouver.  Despite repeating the level, he’s still likely to be the younger player at the level.  I think its possible that if things go as planned Osuna could get a mid-season call to the Mid-West League’s Lansing Lugnuts, but that isn’t assured. 
            There is a bit of a conundrum with Osuna’s developmental path.  He’s is still very young, so you’d expect the team would be rather conservative with his promotions.  However given how mature he is for his age, its still conceivable the team could put him on the fast track.  Which ever path the team chooses, I don’t think either way would be easy to criticize. 

Here’s where those two developmental paths, make it very difficult to peg when Osuna’s arrival in the majors could be expected.  If things go perfectly according to plans, its possible we could see him as a September call-up in 2015, but I’d think a more realistic arrival is likely Spring Training 2017.  Its always a positive, when the conservative timeline has a pitcher arriving in the big leagues by the time he’s 22 years old. 

Final Thoughts: Alex Anthopolous’s approach since he took over the team, has been to swing for the fences, both in terms of international signings (such as Osuna & catcher Santiago Nessy), but also in the June Amateur Draft (such as pitchers Daniel Norris, Matthew Smoral & outfielder D.J. Davis).  This type of all-in aggression is what’s allowed the team to ship out the volume of elite prospects they have this off-season, without completely decimating the depth of the system in general. 
          I hope to check out a number of Osuna starts this year (assuming he starts the year in Vancouver), so you can likely expect some amateur scouting reports, from yours truly as the season goes along (along with his projected teammates, Matt Smoral & DJ Davis).

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  1. The part about Mexicans is quite racist. Embarrassing for a first-rate blog.

    1. By no means 'racist'. You should consider the meaning of the term before you apply it so boldly. Genetics based on geographical location in the world is a cultural development, one which is inevitable and needs to be considered when giving a report on the expected performance of a player. He is not applying it detrimentally, rather pointing out some physical tendencies.

  2. He is just tempering expectations on the projection of his size. Its something that I didn't personally take into consideration and will be something to think about in the future. The purpose of these blogs are to provide further insight and opinions on prospects in order to educate fans.

  3. He is just tempering expectations on the projection of his size. Its something that I didn't personally take into consideration and will be something to think about in the future. The purpose of these blogs are to provide further insight and opinions on prospects in order to educate fans.

  4. It's not racist, it's a fact based on genetics. Try not to be so dramatic for the sake of being dramatic.

  5. yeah i guess it's like saying white folk can't jump or dance, to their detriment.