The Potential is There for Jose Osuna

Jose Osuna was signed by Rene Gayo in December of 2009 and was highly a highly ranked international player with the likes of Polanco, Hanson, and Garcia before struggling once he hit A+ Bradenton. In 2013, his home run production cut in half along with a major drop in doubles.

In 2014, Osuna adjusted to the level to rebound with a .296/.347/.458 line and a slight uptick in home runs. The problem now was that Osuna fell in the depth charts and was beginning to struggle with playing time at first base. He split time between first base and DH in 2014, and he was deserving of a promotion to Double-A at the beginning of the season; however, he was blocked by Josh Bell’s move to first in the offseason at Altoona.

Osuna quickly learned to play the outfield as the organization saw the need to get him reps at another position to keep his bat in the lineup. Early reports out of Bradenton were that he was struggling with playing right field, but he made great improvements in the outfield as the season wore on. He displayed a great arm, and his route running improved as the season progressed. He was promoted to Altoona at the end of May and made his Double-A debut on May 29th in Altoona.

In Altoona, Osuna has been regularly playing left field, as Stetson Allie is still seeing time as the everyday right fielder. When he was promoted, he took the world by storm. In his first six games, Osuna went 11-for-23 with three doubles and a 1.109 OPS. Even when he got out, he was squaring up the ball and hitting line drives.

From the first day of his promotion, Osuna has looked solid in left field, taking good routes on fly balls and displaying an extremely strong arm. Osuna expressed that it has been difficult, though, to learn all of the different positions recently.

“During the early part of the year in Bradenton, I played a lot of right field,” Osuna expressed. “I just always want to do the best I can. It is hard playing right field, then first base, then playing left. I have to work hard to be good at any position I play.”

Since his early hot start at the Double-A level, Osuna has cooled off some, but he has still been a rock in left field for the Curve. He is currently hitting .306 with a .769 OPS at the Double-A level. He has hit two home runs in Double-A this year; however, he only has two doubles since he began his time at Double-A with three doubles in three straight games.

Osuna’s troubles come in the power numbers. With his size and body type, Osuna needs to be driving the ball in the gaps for extra base hits and eventually home runs. During his first year of professional baseball, he weighed 190 pounds. He currently weighs 230 pounds, and he looks every pound of it. Jose Osuna is a big man, and the weight looks to be all muscle. He has the look and feel of a power hitter who is capable of hitting many home runs. When he isn’t hitting the ball out or at least driving gaps, he loses a lot of value.

Osuna likes to sit fastball then make adjustments when pitchers begin feeding him more breaking pitches. Excluding his first six games in Altoona, he has an ISO of .138 and an OPS of .646. It really seems as though it took a few games for pitchers to learn the scouting report on Osuna and they began feeding him breaking balls, which he has struggled with.

The potential is definitely there. Osuna has the opportunity for playing time in Altoona in the outfield, and he could move back to first base next season after a probable promotion to Triple-A for Josh Bell. It will be interesting to see where the Pirates move Osuna and Stetson Allie around this season, with both playing first base last year. My guess would be that Osuna may make the move back to first after this season and stay at Double-A Altoona. With the flexibility to play outfield and first base, though, it only adds to his value.

His goal should be to hit 15 home runs and 30 doubles at the Double-A level (similar to 2012 at West Virginia). Osuna feels that the power will come.

“The power is coming in a couple of years,” he said. “Maybe I will hit 10-15 homers… maybe I won’t. I just always try to square up the ball and hit it hard because I think the power is coming.”

  • NMR is right… We draft and sign players with “power potential” but change them into singles and ground ball hitters…. Find a coach that can teach all levels bat speed and hand-eye coordination. they taught Pedro how NOT to hit home runs!!!

    • jamminjoe66
      June 29, 2015 9:43 pm

      Well said.

    • The only thing Pedro does well is hit HR, they just taught him how to not be completely useless while also hitting some HRs. What you said isnt at all what NMR is saying, we are drafting guys with advanced hit tools but unproven power and hoping the power develops later. Different from teaching the away from it. Not sure how anyone found this well said.

      • It’s both, Luke.

        Josh Bell has seen his power regress. So has Austin Meadows, Jacoby Jones, and Willy Garcia.

        And if you haven’t noticed, nothing they’ve “taught” Pedro Alvarez has actually made him, you know, a better hitter.

        • that- I’d argue against. Do you remember Pedro last year flailing hopelessly at changeup after changeup? That was him doing it his way….

  • Patrick Kelly
    June 29, 2015 5:09 pm

    Seems like Bell is being given a pass for his complete lack of power, while Osuna is not. Bell is a few months older, has 26 HR’s from A ball and up, while Osuna has 40.

    Now I’m not saying he has the pedigree that Bell does, but to me they are similar players in that we expect some power to show up. Just that one of them is hitting for more over the fence power than the other. Given the fact that Bell was a polished hitter coming out of HS and Osuna came from the international ranks, I will give him the benefit of the doubt that his skills are going to continue to come into form, much like we anticipate Bell to do.

    I’m sure that will all come across as incoherent rambling, which it sort of is 🙂

    I’ve been very high on Jose for a few years now and stuck with it despite his struggles the first time through A+. Here’s hoping that it all continues to come together for him.

  • BJointBucs24
    June 29, 2015 3:52 pm

    They’re so deep at outfielder, I understand Bell being at first base but don’t you want to steer him in that direction? I mean there’s not much of a future at first base if Bell doesn’t pan out.

  • speaking of power prospects….my buddies and I got a kick out of watching Stetson Allie in warmups between innings last night. No lie, he had Adam Frazier dancing all over the field catching his tosses. Twice he over threw him.

    Frazier’s throws were usually right on the money.

    Good thing Stetson gave up pitching. 🙂

  • 10-15 HRs in a year don’t get me excited, to be honest.

    However, I’ve watched him play LF twice and he looked at least average.

    I am not getting my hopes up, that is for sure. If he does turn it on that gives us another trading chip?

  • “…feels that the power will come.”
    The new Pirates Prospects Drinking Game.

    • Lots of guys playing in Twilight and Independent Leagues still waiting on their power to come. 🙂 🙂

      • I know this is the new normal for the Pirates. These are the kind of guys they’re specifically looking for, and even turning the prospects they already have into. They *want* hitters like this.
        I just can’t help but be skeptical. There is so, so little balance in the system right now offensively that if they do not happen to have the ability to develop power prospects – and up to this point, they have not – you’re looking at a terribly impotent offense down the road.
        It pains me to make this comparison, but a team like the Cards have earned that benefit of the doubt. Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong are beating their power projections as minor leaguers. Jason Heyward has increased his ISO each month since being traded. Stephen Piscotty is deliberately having the Stanford Swing beaten out of him, and wouldn’t you know it, has almost double his power production repeating AAA.

        • The worst thing, honestly, NMR is that we do not play to our strengths even as we attempt to create hitters who put the ball in play to all fields. We don’t bunt, we don’t hit in run, we don’t hit behind the runner…so what is the use of producing hitters who hit to all fields if it doesn’t produce more runs, which we’ve all determined we need to win ball games.

          • Well, the logic could easily be “the guys we have in the bigs arent great at these aspects so lets focus on finding talent that does that well”.

    • Now that’s funny!

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