We’re a few days in to the 2011 international signing period, and already there have been big deals handed out, with the Texas Rangers even giving a record setting $5 M to Nomar Mazara out of the Dominican Republic. It is normal to see huge deals during the first few weeks of the signing period. However, don’t make the common mistake that money equals talent. One of the best quotes I’ve seen on the international market compares July 2nd to Black Friday sales: a huge rush to buy items that will be a fraction of the price in a few months.
With the international market, you’re definitely getting talented players with the high bonuses. However, the talent isn’t limited to the big bonuses. Wait a few weeks and you can find talent for a fraction of the price, and sometimes very little at all. That was the case with Jose Osuna. There was no fanfare when Osuna was signed, and his bonus was never announced, likely because it wasn’t significant. He was signed in early December, 2009, despite being first time eligible on July 2nd of that year.
Since then, Osuna has been a pleasant surprise. He led the Venezuelan Summer League in home runs in 2010, his first pro season, hitting ten homers. He also ranked third in the league in doubles, with 16. Osuna made the jump to the US this year, after just one year in the international leagues. He’s on a very talented roster, which includes projectable outfielders like Willy Garcia, Gregory Polanco, Luis Urena, and Gavi Nivar. However, Osuna has fought for regular playing time, and has made a strong case for himself.
So far this season, in just 38 at-bats, the 6′ 2″, 213 pound right hander has a .447/.500/.789 line. He currently has an eight game hitting streak, including a big night last night, when he went 3-for-4 with a triple and two homers, giving him three long balls on the year, or almost one every 12 at-bats. During his hitting streak, he’s 15-for-28, including 10-for-13 in the month of July so far.
A lot of focus goes to the big bonus babies in Latin America, such as recently signed Pirates Harold Ramirez and Elvis Escobar. However, the talent isn’t limited to those with big bonus figures. Osuna is a strong example. He was a low key signing, and so far he’s displayed some nice power potential, and is off to a good start in his US career.