Jose Osuna Finishes His Winter with an Impressive Showing at the Plate

For the second day in a row, the Pittsburgh Pirates have ended a winter league season for one of their big league players. Starling Marte saw his season end a few days early due to a hand injury yesterday. On Wednesday, Jose Osuna saw his season end with just four days left in the Venezuelan league season. The Pirates originally sent him there for a month and wouldn’t grant an extension on that time.

Osuna played his last game on Sunday, though he was available to play in yesterday’s game, which was rained out. He finished with a .321/.376/.538 slash line in 22 games, and picked up hits in each of his final 17 games, which is a new record for Bravos de Margarita.

The big thing everyone watched for this winter with Osuna was how he handled third base. He played 14 games at the position and wasn’t that busy. An average third baseman will get approximately 2.5 chances per game. Osuna had 23 total chances in 14 games (1.6 per game), committing three errors (.870%), all on grounders he misplayed. The low total of chances probably has something to do with his ability to get to grounders because he wasn’t behind a high strikeout or high fly ball pitching staff. Late in the season, Osuna told the local media that his adjustment to third base was harder than he thought it would be, but he felt he was making progress.

Before he reported to his winter team, Osuna said he was going to play third base 3-4 times a week, seeing the rest of his time at first base and in the outfield. He ended up playing one game in the outfield and never saw first base, serving as the DH in his other seven games.

His value is going to be in any hitting he provides in 2018. Osuna’s best position is first base, while he has difficulties in the outfield and the third base numbers are both a small sample size and lacking positives due to the limited chances and trouble with grounders. He does have a strong arm and at least the accuracy seems to be there, but we will see if he gets any significant time there in 2018. It may start with him in Indianapolis, continuing to learn the position before they give him any third base time in Pittsburgh.

I’ll add one interesting note to look forward to soon and that is the winter camp at Pirate City next month. It’s usually during the second week in January and assuming Osuna shows up to the optional camp, we will get to see him at third base for a few days. Fielding drills for players new to their position are always a big part of those camps. We might get a better idea of his abilities then.

  • Would you rather have Pedro get two at bats per game vs right handed
    pitchers and then bring in Freese after that?

  • I think the “love” for Osuna comes from some of us
    depressed folks when we lost Marte and (who is he?)
    comes in and gives the Pirates some good play
    in a couple of positions and a pretty good bat at
    times (along with Frazier). I do not think the
    expectations were very high and Osuna exceeded
    our very limited expectations.

    • Well stated. He was never supposed to be a 2017 option and after a premature promotion, he did better than expected in MLB. His bat plays, his glove is limited, but he has the work ethic – the ball is now in the Pirates side of the court to build on the extremely limited defensive exposure he has had at 3B. Still has 6 years of control unlike Freese, Harrison, and Rodriguez who are one and done.

    • what the heck were your expectations then?

      the guy hit .233/.269/.428… i can’t imagine that that exceeded anybody’s expectations. That’s a pretty bad debut by a 1b.

      • I think they are talking about how he started, not his overall numbers.

        • Yes, John that is correct.
          And when he was brought up my expectations for
          him were quite low especially for a guy who most
          never thought would not see a major league stadium
          in 2017.

          • But as good or better than many of the part-timers who saw action for the Pirates in 2017, some of whom were veterans being paid $4 and $5 mil. A .697 OPS does not look good, but the 24 EBH in 215 AB is very impressive – I think he led the team in percentage of EBH/AB with 11.16%. Sean Rodriguez was the low on the team at 4.21%.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    December 20, 2017 9:28 pm

    This kid has proven he can hit – and hit at the MLB level if given an opportunity. If he can at least be serviceable at third and not repeatedly hurt the team there, I’d give him a shot. What long-term value does a guy like Freese have on a .500 team? If he can be bundled with a Cole or Cutch to yield the desired return, do it.

  • I’ll never understand the cult following for Jose Osuna. Hell, some on here think he’s the 2nd coming of Nelson Cruz…Did you guys not see his 2nd half in Pittsburgh? Guy was terrible and the bulk of his ab’s were vs lefties…I honestly don’t see him making the team out of spring, they have multiple options to play 1b that are better than him – Bell, Rodriguez and Freese. He has no business ever standing in the OF again.

    • i’m kinda with you. his only real successful minor league statline is his 2016 AAA line where he put up a .291/.333/.482 in 234 PA. otherwise, he just kinda plugs along with .760 OPSs.

      he’s a perfectly fine bat off the bench, and there’s value in being able to fake it in every corner position. But this just isn’t likely a guy who will be an average regular, ever. he could… but better prospects have become much less.

    • This is what happens when power is as rare as the Pirates have made it seem.

  • A scout once told me that the Pirates love his makeup. Guess he’s a hard worker.

  • Shrug. If the Buccos can win 94 with Pedro Alvarez at 3rd, then I say let’s see what Jose Osuna can do there.

    • Alvarez was actually a decent 3b there for a while!

      and then he forgot how to throw 🙁

  • Trade him for Keon Broxton.

  • If he has no position on the Pirates, why can’t he be a trade chip.

    • sure, they can deal him, but keep in mind that he probably isn’t valued that highly by the industry.

      i can’t imagine that many teams would read that much into his winter hitting stats.

      Until he proves otherwise, he is a first baseman who doesn’t hit good enough to be a first baseman.

  • I love his bat. Quick. Gots POWER. Reminds me of Aramis Ramirez (not saying he’s as good)……He is a 1B or DH though. Given the right opportunity, I think he could do really, really well.

    • honest question. other than this winter and in his first 230 PA in AAA in 2016, when has he shown that much power?

      as far as i can tell, he usually has SLGs in the low-to-mid .400s.

      • I don’t know that this is the argument being made above, but be careful not to conflate raw power and game power.

        Seems pretty clear that Osuna has plenty of *raw* power, but his terrible approach and grounder-heavy profiles means he doesn’t get to it in games.

        • Osuna’s patience could definitely improve but I wouldn’t say he has a terrible approach. It’s better than Marte’s. He’s never been a big K guy. Still, with his defense he would need to be a consistent .800+ ops player which I don’t know if he can become.

      • Fair point. I guess I see his size, bat speed and good stroke. I see the ball really jump off his bat. If protected, and given a real opportunity, he’s a dude that could produce lots of doubles and 20 plus HR’s. THAT being said, I don’t think he’s athletic enough to play 3B and should only spot play in RF, could start at 1B or DH. Likely an American League guy. Too bad.

  • If he can’t get to the balls…stick me at third, I’ll sign for league minimum.

  • Pirates need a 3B who can hit RH pitching, as Freese is a stud vs southpaws. Not sure Osuna is the man for the job.

    • I have never gotten the ‘love’ for him.

      • He’s one of those guys that has always been easy to root for. He works hard and goes about his business in a way that is respectful to the game. I always hope he does well, just because he’s likable. Unfortunately, that’s not a trait that helps on the field.

      • Or from him!

    • Freese is reaching an age where he may be prone to injuries. He can’t hit LHP from the whirlpool. Osuna may put up a better SLG than Freese as well. Good to have both options.

      • huh? Freese is fantastic vs lefties

        • He’s saying he can only be fantastic vs lefties if healthy.

          • ohhhh i get it now. i originally took “from the whirlpool” to be like… another way to say “he can’t hit his way out of a paper bag vs LHP” i guess?

            thanks for clarifying. i feel better about the sanity of this board now haha.

    • With the Angels’ now-stacked team, i wonder if they could get Luis Valbuena on the cheap. He could compliment Freese pretty well, IMO.