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Roberto Osuna Finishes Strong in AFL

The Arizona Fall League is officially done, and despite putting together a pretty decent second half, the Mesa Solar Sox (home of our Blue Jay representatives) fell short of competing for the championship.  Doesn’t mean that the season wasn’t a success though, especially as it pertained to the young Mexican right-hander, Roberto Osuna.

Osuna’s final performance was versus the Surprise Saguaros, his third against the Sags, so really there should have been no Surprises….see.what.I.did.there.

All told he gave up five earned over eight innings pitched in those three performances.  Not terrible considering the quality of opposition he was facing.  I covered Hunter Renfroe a couple of posts ago, the same post that quit on me when trying to write about Patrick Kivlehan and D.J. Peterson, whom I’ll cover below.

And shame on me, but I totally forget about Jesse Winker, who, as a 20 year old hit AA last year.  Apologies.

A lot of this post was written quite awhile ago, hence the dated Devon Travis info:

Of course, as is the case with most prospects, or org fillers, depending how you view them, there is going to be dissenting opinions.  To whit, from the most recent KLaw chat:

Patrick Kivlehan: Desert mirage or real thing?

Org guy or bench guy, but not more. Neat story but to play a corner (almost certainly 1b) you’d better have a lot more stick than that.

Now, from my, admittedly limited, reading of these guys they do seem to trend towards opposite ends of the spectrum.   Pleskoff could be described as quite positive while Law is a renowned negateur.  I’ve talked about this before when trying to break down scouts opinions (something both Andrew Stoeten and Ewan Ross do with far more intelligence than myself when discussing the newest Blue Jay, Devon Travis.  Not trying to make this post a link dump but here’s an interesting view from the Tiger’s side of the deal).  You are going to get some divergence.  Whether through long held bias or looking for different things.

You have to remember, both Pleskoff and Law are paid for their opinions, and while I doubt their respective employees demand certain results in what is a wildly unpredictable field, being able to claim ‘wins’ must go a ways towards respectability.  So, sitting on one side of the fence guarantees a certain amount of wins.

I probably saw Kivlehan at the Nat three or four times and he did nothing but hit.  True, I got a bit wrapped up in the whole football to baseball story but still, when looking at just the numbers the Rutgers product has improved every year he has been a pro, despite steady progress up the minor league ladder.

He’s always shown decent power, with pretty consistent ISO’s near .200, aside from an odd 60 game stint that only produced 16 extra base hits with the Clinton LumberKings.  What impresses me is how he has developed his strike zone awareness.  With Everett, Kivlehan struck out 29.4% of the time for a 0.20 BB/K rate.  Last year, for the AA Jackson Generals, the K rate dipped to 18.1% while the walk rate improved to his highest ever pro total of 10.2% for a 0.56 BB/K rate.

No matter what you think of Kivlehan as a prospect, I think there’s a fair to good chance he makes his mlb debut in 2015.

Where he ends up playing though is another matter entirely.  The Mariners are already locked at 3B with Kyle Seager recently inking a seven year $100 million buck deal.

First is an option but the M’s have another high end prospect who is currently a third basemen but will move across the diamond ahead of Patrick.

Neither Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus have released their Seattle top 10s but I’m willing to guess that both will have 2013 1st rounder D.J. Peterson in the top three (here is a link for a quick hit on him by BP).

Admittedly, my somewhat foggy memory, wasn’t overly impressed with Peterson when he came to the Nat.  Looking at the numbers, he did have a tough series, going 1 for 12 during his three games here.  That didn’t stop him from putting up a .914 OPS in the Northwest League before a July promotion to Clinton.  In his 26 games in A ball, D.J. slugged seven home runs for a .283 ISO before an ugly beaning incident left him with a broken jaw.

He’d obviously recovered by the beginning of this past season as he absolutely destroyed the California league, slashing .326/.381/.615 for a 154 wRC+.  In June, he joined Kivlehan in Jackson where, despite a lower .283 BABIP, he still managed an impressive 126 wRC+.

Peterson’s Southern League arrival pushed Kivlehan off third. He became somewhat of a rover, spending time at first and all three outfield positions.  D.J. mainly played third, with a few games at both DH and 1B.

Before I make this post too much of a Mariners prospect love in, let’s look at the bottom line.  Roberto Osuna was consistently facing high end bats who were both older and more experienced during his time in the AFL.  And despite a little blip in his last start, things got better and better throughout his AFL tenure:

Oct 9 vs SRR 1.33 6 1 6 0 1 2 5.25 12.76 13.50 2.00 6.75
Oct 14 vs SS 1 3 0 2 0 1 1 4.00 4.76 9.00 1.00 9.00
Oct 20 vs SS 2 4 0 2 0 2 2 3.00 4.76 9.00 1.00 9.00
Oct 25 vs SS 3 2 0 0 0 0 2 0.67 2.43 6.00 2.00 0.00
Nov 4 vs SRR 2 2 0 0 0 0 3 1 0.76 13.5 3.00 0.00
Nov 11 vs SS 3 5 1 3 0 0 5 1.66 4.76 15 5 0.00
Totals 12.33 22 2 13 0 4 15 2.11 4.41 10.95 3.75 2.92
Batter Result Age Parent 2014 Level BA Prospect? MLB.com
Jace Peterson*** K|F4 23 SDP AA/AAA 7 NR
Patrick Kivlehan 1B|2B 24 SEA A+/AA 12 6 (19)
Nick Williams**** K|2B 21 TEX A+/AA 3 4 (6)
Hunter Renfroe** K|F6 22 SDP A+/AA 4 4 (4)
Seth Mejias-Brean 1-3|K 23 CIN A+/AA 21 NR
Pat Cantwell 2B 24 TEX AA NR NR
Mallex Smith HR 21 SDP A/A+ NR NR
Deven Marrero K 24 BOS AA/AAA 15 10 (15)
**Pre-2014 Top 100s – BA #80
***Played 27 games for Padres in 2014
****Pre-2014 Top 100s – BA #97, BP #88

What I like the most is fact the walks dried up completely.  Obviously that meant he was catching a bit too much of the the plate on the 11th but he was also missing a lot of bats as the 5 K’s prove.

All in all, after two very average outings to start with, I’m sure the Blue Jays will be pretty happy with Osuna’s fall league performance.

The reason I focused so much of my time on Osuna in the AFL was because I wanted more data before setting my Jays top 30 prospect list.  In my mind, and I’d still like to talk more with anyone you may have seen him, Roberto has, at the very least, stayed the course, but more than likely improved his stock.

He didn’t make mlb.com’s AFL top 25 but let’s take into account two things.  One, this year’s AFL prospect class was stacked and two, mlb.com sometimes makes very interesting decisions when it comes to prospect rankings.  See the Blue Jays mid-season list for a perfect example (D.J. Davis at 10??! No Miguel Castro, etc).

There’s a very good chance the 20 year old starts next year for New Hampshire.  That would put him just under five years below the average hitters age (based on last year’s numbers) coming off a year where he recuperated from Tommy John before throwing 35.1 innings between rookie, high-A, and the AFL.

I know Miguel Castro has been getting a lot of pub this off-season, and rightfully so, but let’s not forget, despite being around for a few years, Osuna is younger than Castro.  He may not have the 100 mph fastball that Miguel does but his change is light years ahead.

I have to compare the two because I’m not going to bottle it and rank them as a tie but no matter where they fall, the Jays have some very young, very exciting pitching prospects in the system.  And given the progression some of the pitchers made last year, it’s not hard to imagine them landing in Toronto sooner than expected.

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