The other night I was on hand to see a pitching matchup that featured two of the top pitching prospects from the 2011 International market. Victor Sanchez took the mound for the Everett Aqua Sox, making his 9th start of the year. I was planning on attending the game a few days in advance just to see the 17 year old Sanchez. When I heard that Roberto Osuna was being called up from the Appalachian League to pitch for the Vancouver Canadians that night, things got even better.
Osuna, 17 years old and 8 days younger than Sanchez, was signed by the Blue Jays last year for $1.5 million. In 24 innings pitched on the year for Bluefield, he had a 1.50 ERA, 9.0 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9. I did not know much about Osuna’s stuff heading into the start but when the media guy for Everett texted me saying that the probable for the game was “The Mad Mexican Roberto Osuna” according to the Vancouver pitching coach, I knew I’d be in for a show.
Osuna did not disappoint one bit.
Victor Sanchez got things going by getting strikeouts for his first three outs. Well Osuna followed suit in the bottom of the first, striking out three batters and then raised Sanchez one by going on to strikeout the side in the 2nd as well. The strikeout streak came to and end at seven strikeouts after getting a flyout for the second out in the third. Osuna would go on to strikeout 13 of the 19 batters he faced on the night. The final line for Osuna was 5IP 1H 0R 1BB and 13K. He threw 75 pitches on the night, 58 of which were strikes and 45 of those 58 strikes were swinging. Now that is impressive.
What first struck me with Osuna was his arm speed and maturity on the mound. He has a quick arm with smooth and easy arm action. He is listed as at 6’2” 230lb and I don’t see him growing much more. His mechanics are pretty sound and smooth but his delivery looks like there is a little too much effort than needed. I don’t think it’s anything to get worked up about and shouldn’t be hard to fix. He has a great feel for pitching, and his maturity/compusure was beyond his years. One thing that will be important to Osuna’s further development is that he stays conditioned and in shape.
Osuna’s fastball sat about 91-94 and he reared back and touched 95 a few times and hit 96 once. I don’t think he will add much more velocity as he develops but his velo is already impressive at such a young age. He commanded his fastball very well, working the ball around the plate. He does a great job using it to set up his other pitches and he really pounded the strike zone. There was some arm side run on the pitch and a little sink but mostly when it was around 91-92 MPH. There were times where he left it up or missed his spots a little but with his velocity, he was still able to blow it by hitters. His command and velocity of the pitch is very impressive at such a young age and it could very well develop into a plus pitch.
After the game, I looked up some scouting reports online and read that Osuna had a curve that sat in the upper 70s and had was a lot more like a slurve. Well I’m not sure he threw much of the pitch if he even threw it at all in his start. The only breaking ball I saw from Osuna was a slider with had hard sweeping action and sat about 80-83 and that’s what I was calling it as I charted. The Vancouver pitchers charting in front of me also called it a slider. There were times where it was a little slurvy but it looked a lot more like a slider than a curve to me. Maybe the Blue Jays staff has had him start working on this slider more as opposed to the curve. I talked to Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider who also said it was a slider. He located it pretty well and generated a good amount of swing and misses. There were times where it caught a little too much of the plate and did not break consistently but it was still an impressive pitch and he had a good feel for it. He liked to throw it in 2 strike counts and threw it to both lefties and righties to both sides of the plate.
Osuna’s best secondary pitch was his changeup. The pitch had almost splitter like movement. It had a good amount of drop with a little bit of fade. It was very deceptive and really fooled batters. He had a very impressive feel for it especially for how young he is. The pitch sat about 80-82 MPH.
Overall, I was very impressed by Osuna and he certainly jumped onto the prospect scene for me. Osuna is very young and it is hard to gauge a ceiling for him quite yet but he is certainly a guy to get excited about. With the maturity, feel for pitching, and command that Osuna has at such a young age, he could move fairly quickly for someone that young. With his impressive NWL debut, Osuna is gaining some big time helium and joins an impressive group of pitching prospects in the deep Blue Jays system. He has a bright future ahead we will starting to hear his name a lot more in the prospect world.
The video I recorded of Osuna is below. Enjoy