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.