INDIANAPOLIS — Jose Osuna rejoins the Pirates today, a move some people feel should have occurred upon breaking spring training.
Osuna was arguably the last person cut from the opening day roster, relegated to begin his season with Triple-A Indianapolis.
He spent a majority of last season — 104 games — playing with the Pirates after briefly opening the season with Indianapolis. He hit .322 in spring training this season, but the goal of being on the opening day roster didn’t happen, relegated to open a season at the Triple-A level.
No big deal.
Osuna has endured lower points in his career, ones where he questioned his future within the organization.
And he is in rare company — maybe even all alone — in major league baseball today. Osuna opened three consecutive seasons with High-A Bradenton earlier in his career, but has still found his way to the major leagues.
“How many guys can do that,” said Indianapolis hitting coach Ryan Long, who coached Osuna during his third season in Bradenton. “…I didn’t (see him defeated) but I know he wasn’t excited to be there. How could you? I couldn’t blame him at all. But he went to work and flipped that in a hurry. He’s taken off since then.”
Osuna was promoted to Double-A later that season, before getting promoted to Indianapolis midway through the following season. And he only played 10 games with the Indians last season before getting promoted to join the Pirates.
“I use his story for a lot of the young guys are that are going through some things,” Long said. “He went through it three times and made his major league debut last year. Just keep playing and things will take care of themselves.”
Osuna’s third season in Bradenton is when he had to fight off thoughts of questioning his future. He had hit .296 with an .804 OPS in his second year with the team, which he thought would be good enough to begin with Altoona the following year. But a backup of players in front of him was part of the reason he began with Bradenton for a third consecutive year.
But in the end, Osuna stuck to one main philosophy: worry about what he can control. Osuna couldn’t control where the Pirates sent him, so he simply worried about what he can do to produce.
“It’s hard because my second year in High-A I had a good year but they sent me for the third straight year to High-A ball, but I can’t control that,” Osuna said. “The only thing on my mind is I’m not going to give up. I’m going to work hard and get to Double-A. And here (in Indianapolis) my mind is to get back to the big leagues.”
Now, Osuna has reached that goal and is headed back to the major leagues. And that’s because he worried about what he could control: himself. Osuna is hitting everything with Indianapolis this season, batting .359 with a 1.037 OPS. He was named the International League Player of the Month in April.
As a hitter, Osuna doesn’t have much left to prove at the Triple-A level.
“He’s been ready,” Indianapolis manager Brian Esposito said.
In the field, Osuna is adjusting to a primary role of third base. He’s played 17 of his 21 games at the position, spending the other four in right field.
“He’s going to make a lot of plays for you (at third base),” Esposito said. “Is his range outstanding? No, but he does do a good job of getting the balls he’s supposed to make.”
Osuna spent a good portion of his career playing first base and right field, but the organization felt he could provide help at third base.
“Now, I feel great,” Osuna said. “When I started playing there it was a little hard because the angles and every ground ball is a little bit different than first base.”
Osuna has shown he is ready for the jump to the major leagues as a hitter and has been dependable playing third base this season. A player that once was on the brink of struggles with beginning three straight seasons at the Class-A level has resurrected his career and is returning to the major leagues.
And he will keep the same perspective that carried him through the minor leagues.
“The only thing you can control is playing hard,” Osuna said.