The baseball world awoke yesterday to the news that Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte had been suspended 80 games for PED use. Replacing him on the roster is outfielder/first baseman Jose Osuna. Let’s take a look at what he offers.
Osuna was first signed by the Pirates out of Venezuela in 2010. He was originally a pitcher as an amateur but the Pirates decided to develop him as a hitter. He had an explosive campaign in rookie ball in 2011 (.331/.400/.511) but never quite lived up to the early promise, though he’s been decently productive. He was quite solid last year with Triple-A Indianapolis, hitting .291/.333/.482 with 13 walks and 36 strikeouts in 220 at-bats.
Osuna was rated as a Grade C+ pre-season but fell just short of the Top 20 on the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates prospect list.
He had an excellent spring training with the Pirates, batting .407/.492/.759 with 10 walks and 10 strikeouts in 54 at-bats. Osuna’s tear through Florida spring camps was still fresh on Pittsburgh’s mind when Marte was suspended, making Jose the logical choice for promotion, especially given the slow start of phenom Austin Meadows with Indianapolis.
Osuna is right-handed hitter and thrower, listed at 6-3, 240, born December 12, 1992. Although he does not have the overall athleticism and long-term potential of Meadows, Osuna has two intriguing tools, with 55-60 raw power and a clear 60 arm. He’s quite strong physically but his ability to get to the power in real games as opposed to batting practice is inconsistent.
He’s quite dangerous when he’s locked in and managing the strike zone well, but he’s shown a tendency to chase pitches that he can’t really drive. He’ll crush a hittable pitch over the left field fence, but has yet to master the art of driving pitches the opposite way.
Defensively, Osuna’s pitching background shows up well with a strong and accurate outfield throwing arm, but his speed is distinctly below average and he lacks the range and instincts to be more than an average fielder overall. He’s learned to play first base to add another line to his resume. He’s workable there, but no one will confuse him with Mark Grace. He does stand out for his work ethic on both sides of the ball.
Overall, Osuna projects as a first baseman/outfielder/platoon bat/pinch-hitter with some sock.
Here’s a look at some of that pull power.