INDIANAPOLIS – He provided an offensive boost when the team needed it the most, showing his versatility in the process.

Lehigh Valley swept Indianapolis in a three-game series at Victory Field, as the Indians scored just one run in those games. Manager Dean Treanor, at the time, said his team seemed to be pressing at the plate. Somebody needed to be the one to provide a spark.

Enter, Jose Osuna. The 6-foot-2, 213-pound corner infielder and outfielder showed that his ability to hit for power seems to be increasing.

Osuna hit a home run in three consecutive games against Charlotte. And the home runs came in critical moments. His shot to deep center field in game one traveled 415 feet and was the lone run in a 1-0 win.

In the second game of the series, Osuna hit a home run to left-center field to put the Indians ahead, 1-0, in a game they went on to win. And in the third game of the series, Osuna broke a tie with a thee-run home run to right field.

Three days, three home runs, three different parts of the field. That sums up Osuna’s successful transition to Triple A: He’s hitting for power and extra bases. In 26 games with the Indians, Osuna is hitting .295 with a .909 OPS.

“I was told when he got here I would be impressed with him,” Indianapolis hitting coach Butch Wynegar said. “I never like to make judgments until I see for myself. For a big guy he has the ability to use the whole field.”

Osuna has 23 hits at the Triple-A level, with nine doubles and four home runs. He’s on a 12-game hitting streak entering Friday.

“I’m just trying to see the ball deep,” Osuna said. “I have better recognition of the breaking pitch. I feel better now because the first two weeks here they threw a lot of sliders to me and I was chasing that pitch. Now, I feel better I took it down and I think that’s the difference right now.”

Osuna hit .269 with .763 OPS in 70 games with Altoona this season before being promoted to Indianapolis on June 30. His adjustment to the Triple-A level has been quick.

He went 0-for-1 in a pinch-hitting role in his first game with the Indians and went 0-for-3 in his first start. In his third game, Osuna had a pair of doubles. Since that point, he’s only been held without a hit in four of the past 21 games. However, one of those games was just a pinch-hit at-bat.

“The pitchers get a little bit better [at Triple-A] and they don’t miss too much,” Osuna said. “They have better command of the pitch so I have to make an adjustment. I think my approach is just to see the ball deep. I was trying to do too much and that’s not my game.”

Osuna’s adjustment to the pitch sequence he’s encountering at the Triple-A level is made easier by his own efforts, studying his own game and that of his opponents. He is also showing early signs of being able to make adjustments on the fly, Wynegar said.

“For 23 years old you look at him and you think he’s older than he is,” Wynegar said. “He’s very mature. He’s a student of the game, he’s a student of hitting and he watches the pitchers. He’s pretty advanced for 23 years old at this level to go up there and kind of formulate his plan on what he is seeing before him and what they’ve done to him before. “

Osuna’s power surge via the home run is a matter of him taking advantage of mistakes made by pitchers, Wynegar said.

“That’s what you have to do,” Treanor added. “He has done that. And I think as everybody does, especially someone that is a corner outfielder or corner infielder – I think he can try to do too much at the plate. But if he can continue [to do what he has], then we have something for sure.”

A successful hitter is not just one that can hit for power, but know when to hit for power, Wynegar said.

“I’ve talked to these guys all year about when that second baseman is in double-play depth and you have a hole over there for a couple of trucks to drive through, take a shot at it,” Wynegar said. “That’s how guys hit .300. More times than not guys try to do too much in certain situations. They want to be a hero or they want to hit the ball too far, and next thing you know they roll one over to the shortstop and it’s s double play. [Osuna] seems to have that knack and smarts of when to go ahead and try to let it eat and when to just play the game.”

Osuna could carve himself a role in the major leagues in the future if he continues to hit for power. Granted, there’s going to be a backlog of players in front of him in the near future within the Pirates organization – whether in the outfield or at first base. But his ability to play those two positions would make him valuable off the bench if he continues to hit well.

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  1. Is this the same Osuna that has been referred to as Mr unknown or something like that for there not being enough coverage on him? I looked back and he gets decent coverage. As good as he seems to be NH never throws his name out like we hear Newman, Bell, Meadows, McGuire, and the many pitcher prospects. Also with him in Indianapolis now it will be harder to get Bell more outfield experience that they have talked about.

    • It’s the same one, and yes, he’s always gotten good coverage. He got the #NoList nickname because he wasn’t ranked in top 30 lists anywhere, and people felt he should be a top 30 guy. I’ve never understood that, because it’s not like one ranking had him left off, but every ranking had him left off.

      • I am an Osuna fan. Just don’t get the slobering over other prospects who have yet to hit like Osuna has. So he repeated a level once… plenty of prospects do that. He broke out somewhat in Altoona last year and did great in the fall league he was in. Raking now in AAA at age 23. Personally think he will have a better MLB career than someone like Ramirez who has zero power, shows mistakes in the field and on the base paths. I bet they promoted him to increase his trade value similar to Jacoby Jones last year.

        • One thing I don’t understand about the Osuna hype is the idea that he hits well. His OPS by year:

          2012 – .779 (A)
          2013 – .655 (A+)
          2014 – .804 (A+)
          2015 – .764 (A+/AA)
          2016 – .798 (AA/AAA)

          It’s not bad, but the way he gets hyped up in the comments, you’d think he’s putting up an OPS around .900 each year.

          • Ok – you love Jaso I like Osuna.
            I just think he is a “player” – someone who plays to the level of the competition.

            I believe you could slot him into a MLB lineup for the rest of this year and he would produce a .750+ ops

            Jaso is at .712

            • You are either over-estimating Osuna, or under-estimating how difficult it is to put up a .750 OPS in the majors.

              Right now there are 110 qualified players in the majors with an OPS of .750 or higher. That means Osuna would be, on average, the fourth best hitter on any team with a .750 OPS. And that’s after putting up an OPS under .800 in Double-A, and having less than 100 at-bats above Double-A.

              Is it possible to just say that Osuna could be a good bench player, without over-rating him?

      • So Tim…
        If a disaster happens and Jaso and all other first base options are lost for the rest of the year and you are Huntington and Hurdle who do,you call up to play first base every day…
        Bell or Osuna?
        And why?

    • The Bell OF experiment is idiotic – he can’t throw and will be run on regularly. So a guy who they won’t trust playing first base and has no other positions is a better prospect than a guy who hits and plays a serviceable first base?

      Sometimes I think this stuff is way too subjective.

      • I don’t like the DH, but based on rumors it sounds like it’s coming. Other things I’ve heard about is shortening the season or adding roster spots.

        • I love baseball but I really want them to shorten the season to at most the old 154 games but ideally the older 148 games.
          Pitchers don’t really get 20 wins or 300 innings anymore and steroids pushed the hitting records out of reach so I no longer care about the statistics viewpoint

          • I wouldn’t mind the 148 and going to an 8 team playoff per league. The lost revenue would be made up in play-off games. Also since more teams would still be in it attendance would be better through the end of the season with more teams still in the race. This would also mean a lot less trade deadline deals.

            • Shorten the season. Have some day/night double headers if the owners need income, giving the players an off day.
              Just say no to expanded playoff format.
              Do away with the trading deadline, but hold on to the Sept trade addons being eliigible for post season.

  2. 15-20 HR potential, strong doubles power, LF/RF/1B flexibility, decent K-% for a power bat…could make for a good 4th OF/Bench Bat to eventually replace Matt Joyce and the like. I’d say his progress this year makes it more likely he would get snagged in Rule 5, which could increase the chances of us protecting him in the offseason (if we don’t use him as trade bait this weekend).

    • I think if they had their druthers and could trade a 1b player, it would be Jaso and they’d keep Osuna. Unfortunately Jaso’s slump has made him not so attractive.

    • That kind of player would be a starter. Osuna won’t be that player. His minor league HR totals are 16, 8, 10, 12, 10 in the last five years. And if he’s a bench player, he’s not getting 15-20 homers. It’s more like 5-10 at most. He also wouldn’t be an option in left field, especially with the spacious PNC Park.

      • Based on his performance in the past winter league and his recent promotions, do you think they are trying to showcase him a little as potential trade package. If so then what his his value in a trade?

  3. So what do the Bucs do with a guy like Osuna if he continues to develop? He has no future at 1B unless Bell isn’t there for some reason . He’s eligible for Rule 5 again this year, right?

  4. Osuna’s future is going to depend on his ability to hit the long ball. That said, I like his contact rate, and I dig the phrase “see the ball deep”.

  5. A request to the website operators — would it be possible to include a link to the profile of the player who is featured in the article? more links in these articles to other sections of the website?

    • On the front page and every page, there is a magnifying glass in the top corner that allows you to search the entire site. For Osuna, as an example, there are 55 articles with his name in the title and another 770+ where he is at least mentioned. As an FYI, his name was spelled “Ozuna” while he was in the Venezuelan Summer League, then they changed it when he reached the U.S. the following season.

      The Player Pages for each player can be found on the drop down screen under the “MORE” tag at the top, just to the left of the magnifying glass. There you can find profiles for every player in the system who has reached the U.S. That “MORE” section has a lot of other useful links as well that make searches easier, but my best suggestion is use the search option because there are so many articles for players who have been around as long as him.

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