Jose Osuna Named Venezuelan League Rookie of the Year

On Wednesday morning in Venezuela, Jose Osuna was named the Venezuelan winter league Rookie of the Year. Osuna saw some playing time in the league during the previous two off-seasons, but he didn’t play enough to lose his rookie eligibility. He had a breakout winter this year and will also get some consideration for the MVP award, which will be handed out later this week. Osuna received 46 of a possible 50 first place votes, easily winning the ROY award.

I was recently able to talk to someone who saw Osuna a lot last year with Bradenton, then got to see him this year in Altoona and during winter ball. I asked about the changes he saw in Osuna from last year to now and he said the biggest difference is that Osuna doesn’t expand his strike zone in big spots anymore. One of Osuna’s biggest issues was being selective at the plate. He tended to go after the first strike he saw, even if it wasn’t a good pitch to hit. He makes consistent contact, but he would make a lot of weak contact on tough pitches to hit. He doesn’t strikeout a lot or walk much, but that was due to his ability to make contact and lack of plate patience, so the overall results weren’t there.

This year, Osuna began to look for his pitch more often and when runners were on base, he wasn’t chasing pitches as much. When he was locked in, he was only going after pitches in his zone. That led to better results and he carried that new selectivity at the plate into winter ball, where he hit .330/.395/.519 in 59 games. While I only asked about his success at the plate, I was told that Osuna has greatly improved his defense at first base this year. It should be added that he played more left field than first base in winter ball and had a handful of highlight reel plays.

Osuna will likely start the 2016 season back at Altoona because Indianapolis seems very crowded at this moment. He could experience something similar to 2015, moving up to Indianapolis when a space opens up and that could be first base when Josh Bell gets promoted to Pittsburgh. Osuna will have to continue to be more selective at the plate and not revert back to the old ways, trying to do too much to get to the next level. If he hits enough, the Pirates will find a place for him in Indianapolis.

  • Have any other players of significance win ROY in the Venezuelan winter league?

  • Whaaaaat? Are we having one, let alone 2 actual 1B prospects in the minors? Ok, ok…I know…Big Country was a 1B prospect too. lol

  • The Pirates are starting to develop depth at the upper levels. May lead to tough choices down the road.

  • John, Has the prospect status of Jose Osuna risen with his performance in the winter leagues? In the prospect guide he is ranked as the 37th best Pirate prospect. In hindsight would this catapult him into the top 20?

    • 37 to top 20 would be an extreme jump over a very short time. His winter ball season was more than half over when we finalized the list. I personally have him ranked higher than #37, but if you check the guide, you will see that every player from #29 to #42 is ranked a 4.0, so we consider them all in the same tier. There isn’t a big difference between anyone in that group, so if you like him better near the front of that group, then that’s fine. Osuna did actually move up one spot because Trey Supak was traded after the book was printed.

  • After this season, it appear the Bucs will have some options to fill that never-ending void called first base. Between Bell, Osuna and Espinal someone should pan out to provide at least league-average production for the position. I am excited to see Bell and Osuna this year.

  • Will be interesting to see how the Bucs use – develop him this year.

  • It was easy to see he was much more comfortable defensively than Bell playing 1st base ( in Altoona ) than Bell was. And I am not being anti Bell, his hit tool can not be denied.

    • Which one is the better overall 1B candidate Bell or Osuna. If the 5MM bonus to Bell was of no consideration who should get the job?

  • I guess Mr. Osuna is making people take notice. He was never a standout for his performance but for his weight.

  • Watching the videos, it seems he is also stronger and a bit “leaner?”

    • Players do tend to get a little leaner running around the outfield as opposed to first base. He has always been fairly strong, but he also just turned 23 weeks ago, so he has filled out some naturally.

  • I think this guy is just starting to come into his own. Hope for a big year with impressive power numbers. Bell, he is coming, so you better do your best to keep your spot.

  • Still a ways off, but if Osuna pans out, and we don’t resign Cutch, would the Pirates consider Osuna at 1B and move Bell back to the OF? Or is it more likely that they’d trade one of Osuna or Bell since Meadows is in line for that OF spot?

    • Bell is a pretty average outfielder – Meadows is first in line – then Ramirez and hopefully Garcia. Osuna would probably be a better corner OF than Bell – great arm

      • Osuna isn’t very quick at all in the outfield, and his routes looked like a 1st baseman playing LF.

      • Can’t wait to see Meadows and Ramirez in Pittsburgh. *salivates and knocks on wood*

  • “f he hits enough, the Pirates will find a place for him in Indianapolis.”

    Hell, if he hits enough, he should be in Pittsburgh.

    • A natural progression in the minors is to move someone from AA to AAA first

      • yes but a promotion in 2017 wouldn’t be out of the question… time in september as well if his hit tool continues. Would be great off the bench… better than 2.5M serpico. SMH

        • Actually the Streamer projections for Osuna were no better than Serpico. Both projected around 80 wRC+ with poor averages, OBP, etc etc.

          • Of course… was more calling out the terrible contract we provided to Serpico. Wouldn’t expect Osuna’s numbers to be better this year. Was more looking at late 17 or 18 to get to the burgh if he continues to shine.

          • That is what I find frustrating. You are spot on – Osuna is Sean Hurdle. The difference is he costs $2M less.
            If I am a low payroll team why in the hell do I waste $2.5M on SH?

            • While everyone agrees S Rod was poor asset management, it has 0 to do with Osuna since he plays 1B and stands in the OF at times.

              No roster spot for him, and if he’s a future 1Bmen the overall hit tool is good not great with no room to regress against AAA level pitching.

            • You do realize you just responded to a comment from 2 1/2 months ago, right?

        • No it wouldn’t if he continued to hit. I was just talking about his 2016 placement though above and where we see him going at this time. Indy has Bell at first base, and he will be playing there 9 out of 10 games. Jake Goebbert probably goes there too, since I don’t see a bench spot for him. So he will play 1B/OF. Then you have Willy Garcia, Mel Rojas Jr., Danny Ortiz and Antoan Richardson for the outfield, as well as Adam Frazier possibly going there and seeing some OF. It’s very crowded in Indy, infield and outfield.

          • was talking promotion after Bell hit Pittsburgh in 16. Spend part of 17 in Indy with possible promotion if he continues to hit and play solid defense. Garcia and Rojas have both completely floundered at the plate in Indy… Garcia hopefully gets better.

          • How many of those outfielders at Indy r major league prospects. If Osuna has qualities of a major league prospect, why not play him. He performed better in winter ball then lot of other teams prospects.

            • I would say Garcia is a better prospect and Ortiz has a shot at making the majors, plus Frazier would probably be considered a better prospect than Osuna. It’s not always a matter of getting them playing time at the highest level, you’re going to want someone in the outfield in AAA who can step in to the majors if you need them, and in some cases, you just want someone with experience, who you don’t mind dropping from the 40-man roster if you need a spot. We saw that happen at various positions a lot the last two years. Osuna only spent part of last year in AA, so returning at age 23 for part of this season isn’t a big deal.

    • Hint : McCutchen had somewhere around 900 ABs in AAA.