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Roberto Osuna Makes AFL Debut

For some reason I had it in my head that Thursdays Mesa Solar Sox’ Arizona Fall League game was rained out.  So was a bit behind the curve checking out what the Blue Jays farmhands on display had done.  When I did get around to it, it was a bit disappointing.  As I mentioned in my AFL intro post, I am going to pay particular attention to ex-Vancouver Canadian and recent Tommy John surgery recoveree Roberto Osuna.

Reasoning behind that is simple.  I believe that a strong AFL could potentially see Osuna in double-A New Hampshire to start the 2015 season.  Which would see him checking into the Blue Jays starting pitching depth mix with the likes of Norris, Graveman, Sanchez, Nolin, et al.

The idea behind the series is to try and break down the quality of opponent Osuna faces as he looks to augment the 22 innings he pitched for Dunedin after his return.  Inspiration was taken from fangraphs.com excellent spring training stats where they broke down the ‘level’ of the hitters faced by a pitcher.  Now, I am neither as intelligent as those at fangraphs, nor do I have the same resources, so my charts will be a bit more simplistic.

They’ll also be a work in progress.  As we go along, hopefully either I come up with new ideas, or have them suggested to me.  Today I have the hitters Osuna faced, in order, with the result of the AB, how old the hitter is, what level they played at in 2014, and their prospect ‘ranking’.

I’ll also include a brief snapshot of some counting stats as per below.  As you can see, Osuna’s first inning and a third didn’t go so well.  But there are some positives.  The FIP is about a third of his 40.50 ERA and look at that K ratio!

Grasping at straws, but as Clutchlings reminded me, Aaron Sanchez had a pretty rocky AFL debut. He only got better from there.

 Oct 9 v SRR 1.1 1     6        0       1 2 5.25 12.76 13.50 2.00 6.75
Batter                         Result  Age  Parent  2014 Level  Prospect?
Taylor Featherston K 25 COL   AA 18
Eddie Rosario 1B 23 MIN   AA 6
Ryan Casteel F9 23 COL   AA N/A
Peter O’Brien K 24 ARI   AA 23*
Brandon Drury HR 22 ARI   A+/AA 10**
Max Kepler 1B 21 MIN   A+ 11
Chad Wallach 1B 22 MIA   A N/A
Evan Marzilli SAC 23 ARI   A+/AA N/A***
Justin Bohn BB 21 MIA   A/A+ N/A
Taylor Featherston 1B 25 COL   AA 18
Eddie Rosario 1B 22 MIN   AA 6


*Ranking was as a member of NYY. Was traded to Arizona in Martin Prado deal.

**Rated Best Defensive 3B in California League 2014. Doesn’t really tell us about his hitting, but hey, thought I’d throw it in there.

***Rated Best Defensive OF in California League 2014. As above.

The prospect numbers are taken from BaseballAmerica’s 2013 individual team rankings.  Not very scientific (or current) I know but most publications won’t have gotten around to their ’14 Org. rankings.

So, Roberto didn’t really face a stacked roster in his first outing.  There were a few older guys who could probably be deemed ‘professional’ minor league hitters, but only two guys were considered top 10 prospects in their own systems after 2013.

Again, that’s not to say some of the others didn’t have big 2014’s to put themselves into the prospect conversation and, time permitting, I’ll look up a few individual players to see how they got on.

Today the obvious one is Brandon Drury, who had the only extra base hit of the night.  Unfortunately for Osuna, it left the yard.  Something Drury did quite a bit of in 2014 with 23 long balls across two levels.  Part of the Justin Upton trade, Drury has excelled in Diamondbacks system, doubling his walk rate from his Atlanta days while also putting up career highs in ISO.

MLB.com had him ranked sixth in their mid-season D-Backs prospect report and am guessing he’ll slot somewhere in the top ten in most other publications as well.

Not terrible to give up a home run to a guy who slashed .295/.345/.476 in AA and who ‘will be in the upper levels next year with a chance for a late-season call-up’ according to Kiley McDaniel over at fangraphs, but am guessing Osuna will have been disappointed with his performance.

Remember though, as Jeff Moore from Baseball Prospectus (who didn’t actually see the outing. I’m struggling to find someone that did) says, it’s still very early post-surgery.  Nothing to worry about…

Roberto Osuna, RHP, Blue Jays (Mesa Solar Sox): 1 1/3 IP, 6 H, 6 R, BB, 2 K. Osuna is in the AFL to make up for the time he lost this season after having Tommy John surgery in July of 2013, but as we so often forget, the road back from surgery can often be bumpy. At full strength, he featured an upper-90s fastball, but oftentimes, velocity returns long before command does during the rehabilitation process. Osuna is still quite young (just 19) and returned to missing bats this season in High-A ball, so his future is still bright. He’s just working his way back.

(as an aside, on the latest edition of Your Van Cs “Weekly” we had Tom Robson on to talk about Tommy John and his rehab. He’s got some nice insight into Osuna’s process as well as his own. Well worth a listen)

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