The Toronto Blue Jays are expected to bring two rookie pitchers north in the bullpen to open the 2015 season: right-handers Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna. This was certainly not a decision anticipated before spring training began. Who are these guys exactly?
Miguel Castro is a 20-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic who spent most of 2014 with Vancouver in the Northwest League, posting a 2.15 ERA in 50 innings with a 53/20 K/BB and 36 hit allowed. He made five late starts in A-ball posting a 3.52 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB in 30 innings. Pre-spring it looked like he was destined for development as a starting pitcher in Double-A but his spring performance (10 innings, six hits, two runs, no walks, nine strikeouts) has apparently altered that timetable. The report from the 2015 book:
His velocity increased last year, up to 99 MPH at times. He also made big progress with his change-up but still needs polish on his slider, not an unusual problem for pitchers his age of course. He dominated older competition in the Northwest League last summer, then continued to pitch well in a handful of late starts at both full-season A-ball levels. As always, we need to see how he holds up under a full workload, but Castro has the upside of a number two starter. Grade B-, with more possible.
Here is some video of Castro:
What about Roberto Osuna?
Osuna is also 20 years old, from Mexico, signed for $1,500,000 in 2011. He spent most of 2014 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and was not especially effective when he did pitch, posting a 6.55 ERA in 22 innings in High-A. He did strike out 30 guys but walked nine and gave up 28 hits. Scouting reports were mixed as reflected here:
The good news is that he has his arm strength back, still showing a 90-95 MPH heater that can peak higher. His very good change-up is still there, too. Unfortunately his breaking ball, which was never consistent to begin with, seems to have deteriorated after the injury and looked well below average at Dunedin. It doesn’t necessarily have to stay that way, of course, but at this point we are still looking at a high-upside Grade C+ prospect with considerable natural talent, but also a lot of questions regarding his future role. He could end up in the bullpen.
Like Castro, Osuna has looked great this spring, throwing 10 innings with a 9/3 K/BB, nine hits allowed and one run. He looks like his pre-injury self again, if not better. Obligatory video:
So, good move or bad move promoting these guys?
They've both certainly pitched well of course. It is rather unorthodox to bring two rookies with no experience above A-ball north but that doesn't mean it is wrong. It will be highly interesting to see how the Jays use them, if they hide them in the back of the bullpen in low-leverage situations until they get their feet wet, or if they throw them right into the late-inning fire immediately.
What do you think of this? What is your assessment of the risks involved?