Low Level Prospect Review: Roberto Osuna, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Roberto Osuna burst onto the scene last year with a very solid debut as a 17 year old across two short season leagues. What could the future hold for him, and should we be concerned about his recent struggles?

As we saw a flurry of July 2 signings this week, with both the Cubs and Rangers being extremely active on those markets, let's take a look at a prospect that the Blue Jays signed out of Mexico two years ago, and who has been jumping up on prospect radars with his performance so far stateside.

Osuna pitched in the Mexican League in 2011 as a 16 year old, and promptly had his rights sold to Toronto for $1.5 million. Now, as with all players from the Mexican League, Osuna did not see a substantial portion of that bonus, with his team, the Mexico City Red Devils, receiving the bulk of it. The team sent Osuna to their Appy League affiliate to start his stateside career, where he struck out 24 and walked 6 in 24 innings pitched with a 1.50 ERA. After just a month there, the Jays moved Osuna to the Northwest League, where in 19+ innings pitched he struck out 25, walked 9, and allowed just 14 hits.

The organization gave him a full season assignment to start his 2013 campaign, sending him to Lansing in the Midwest League. His season so far has been up and down, as he pitched well in April, but then missed the month of May as it was determined that he had torn a part of his ulnar collateral ligament. Never the news you want to hear, given that so many of these injuries end up in Tommy John surgery. However, the Jays rested Osuna, and he returned on June 9th to the rotation. His overall line for the season is a mixed bag: 51 strikeouts, 11 walks, and 39 hits allowed in 42+ innings pitched. However, the 5.53 ERA is inflated by his last three starts, where he has allowed 17 earned runs, 18 hits, and 6 walks in 9 innings pitched total.

One of the keys with Osuna seems to be the fact that he doesn't really have a ton of projection left. He is already listed at 6'2, 230 lbs as an 18 year old, which has led to concerns that he will continue to grow beyond the 230 lbs range. That said, his approach and repertoire are considered very mature for his age, as he features a mid 90s fastball with solid movement and life, an excellent curveball, and a plus changeup which some reports have listed as a splitter as well. All three pitches are anticipated to be at least average to above average, which bodes well for his long-term prospects as a starting pitcher.

The ceiling on Osuna isn't as high as some of the other starting pitchers we've profiled before, but he is pretty widely anticipated to have a #3 starter ceiling, which will definitely make him useful to fantasy owners. We could be looking at a starting pitcher who provides solid but not stunning ratios, a solid number of strikeouts, and should generally be a solid provider of innings for fantasy owners. The key to his timeline starts and ends with whether or not he really is healthy and just struggling, or if he is still hurt and still potentially in need of Tommy John surgery. Either way we are looking at a player who is probably at least 3 full seasons from contributing to your fantasy team, but one worth watching all the same.

Sources

Baseball America
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Reference
Fangraphs

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