Winter Leagues: Jose Osuna Shows Off Impressive Power

In Venezuela on Thursday night, Jose Osuna homered for the second night in a row, plus he added two doubles and did all that while leaving after six innings due to the one-sided score. He scored two runs, drove in one, and stole his second base of the winter. Osuna has a .909 OPS through 46 games, which ranks him seventh in the league. He now has six homers and ten doubles.

Elias Diaz went 2-for-4 with his fourth double. He scored once and drove in a run. He has an .806 OPS through 16 games and runners are just 2-for-6 in steals against him. Just like Osuna, Diaz left the game early and both were actually replaced by 2015 Pirates who signed elsewhere this off-season. Junior Sosa replaced Osuna and Francisco Diaz replaced Elias Diaz.

A.J. Morris pitched one inning and allowed one run on two hits. He has a 3.86 ERA in 25.2 innings with 14 walks and 17 strikeouts, though he does have a very impressive 3.38 GO/AO ratio.

Gorkys Hernandez went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .331 through 45 games. He has an .808 OPS.

In Colombia, Tito Polo continued his solid start to the season, going 2-for-4 with a double and run scored. He has a .359/.438/.487 slash line through 39 at-bats. Last winter in Colombia, he got off to a 5-for-30 start, with no walks and 12 strikeouts. While he did end up leading the league with five triples, his overall stats were well below what he has shown early this season. Polo was young for the league and it was much more advanced than what he saw in the GCL in 2014, but it looks like the full season in Low-A ball has helped him this winter. The level of play in Colombia is about what you would see in High-A. Players with upper level experience usually dominate in the league, but there will be some players like Polo in 2013 when he was a fourth outfielder, yet only had DSL experience.

In the Dominican, Gustavo Nunez and Pedro Florimon formed the double play combo for Estrellas de Oriente, a team now managed by their AAA manager this year, Dean Treanor. Nunez batted lead-off and went 1-for-4 with a single. Florimon went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. Neither is hitting well, with Nunez batting .195 and Florimon has a .206 average.

In Mexico, Felipe Gonzalez threw a scoreless inning, though he did it while issuing three walks. He threw just 16 of his 31 pitches for strikes. Gonzalez has a 7.90 ERA in 19 appearances.

I found video of Sebastian Valle’s ejection from Wednesday night and it was because he didn’t appreciate the pitcher’s celebration after a strikeout. That led to a brief fight, which can be seen here.

I wasn’t going to post video of Jose Osuna two days in a row until I saw this one. Not only did he crush the ball, there was some trash talking from the opposing bench afterwards. Impressive power by Osuna here. You can see Wednesday’s home run here.

  • 22 comments about a defensively limited 23 year old with average power and marginal OBP skills, yet the name “Diaz” has again gone unmentioned.

    The fringe prospect fetish with this group is fascinating.

    • I think that’s because we know what Diaz’ ceiling can be since he has been talked about more on this site and people (at least a little) are familiar with him since he was called up late last year.

      Osuna is relatively unknown and is hitting well. He may be “fringe” right now, but he is certainly more intriguing now than he was a year or two ago.

      Just because some people are interested in what he can do and what his ceiling is doesn’t mean people have a “fetish”.

    • Easy Debbie Downer, it’s half the fun.

    • Go Diaz!!

      Better? 🙂

    • Wabbit_Season
      December 4, 2015 6:38 pm

      NMR

      I would call Osuna a “fringe” prospect only because the Bucs are loaded. I don’t have the expertise of Tim or John but what I saw at Altoona this past summer was a guy who can start in the bigs in a year or two. Just my opinion. And I think some of us really like to pull for the dark horse candidates.

      Osuna has a nice big frame. Strong looking. He may never get to the Burgh, the way Tim says in the Guide, but that – in my opinion – would be based on how much talent we already have.

      Plus, I really liked Rojas and was surprised when he came back to AA from Indy.

      -BB

  • Gorkys Hernandez, the Tony Gwynn of the Venezuelan Winter League.

  • Beginning to worry a bit that some team will take a flier on Osuna in the Rule 5 draft coming up. Since he can play in the OF as well as 1st base, it would be easier to bury him on the roster for what, 30 days?, then have an “injury” which puts him on the DL.

    Then again, maybe there is not a lot of stock given to the off season leagues by the powers to be.

    • 90 days and you rarely see 1B or corner outfielders taken in the Rule 5 draft. You have to remember that you take a player in the Rule 5 due to their upside. Even if they go on the DL, you’re still paying them an MLB salary all year and they are getting a year of service time when they aren’t ready for it. You want to take and keep someone who has more value than a bench bat down the line.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    December 4, 2015 10:19 am

    I guess the opposing team didn’t like the fact that Osuna stood and admired his work for a moment! 🙂 He did crush that ball. This kid could always hit and is a real sleeper, considering Bell gets most of the hype as a first base prospect. I just hope the Pirates actually give some of these kids a chance, and not continually block them with less than adequate veterans (Morse, for example).

    • He looked like Miggy! You got to like his cajones as he rounded third!

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        December 4, 2015 10:53 am

        I did like the fact that he gave it back to the opposing dugout…I like his swagger…we need some of that. I would live to see him doing that to the Cubs!

  • Wabbit_Season
    December 4, 2015 9:22 am

    I mean, I don’t wanna get all over-hyped here, but I strongly believe in this player. What I saw in Altoona was what seems to be on display in Venezuela.

    Osuna went from #44 to #34 in the P2 Guide between 2014 and ’15.

    A quote from the best winter reading material money can buy:

    “Osuna doesn’t really have a good future with the Pirates. He’s not only behind Bell on the first base depth charts, but he’s behind Bell in Altoona. He also falls behind Andrew Lambo and Stetson Allie, who are both ranked higher and projected to be in higher levels. That gives him less of an opportunity to show improvements at the position, and too many people to pass. He might end up being a trade chip, sent away to a team that might want to gamble on him adding power in the future and becoming a starting first base option.”

    Given what I saw in Altoona after this was written and considering his prolonged success this Winter, I’m interested to see where Osuna lands in the P2 rankings this Christmas. This is the real fun of P2, by the way. The Guide’s pages read about Osuna being at first base, but at the top of the page it says “OF.” When I saw him, he was in left field and hit a homer that day and also gunned down a man at home.

    One of those players I’m really rooting for.

    -Wabbit

    • What he is doing in winter ball is extremely impressive for two reasons. His age and experience would suggest that he shouldn’t be putting up theses type of numbers. The other is that he was 3-for-26 last winter, spending most of his time on the minor league side. In terms of the majors, he went from a AAAA player to an MVP candidate in one year.

    • Couldn’t he be an ideal platoon partner for Bell if he continues to struggle against LHP? His splits have almost always been better vs. LHP. If he can play some OF as a backup, I could see him as a valued bench player starting maybe even later this year.

      • I don’t think winter will change their plans and it looks like Indianapolis is already crowded at 1B/corner OF/DH, so Osuna will likely start at Altoona and move up when space becomes available. If I had to guess right now, he will split 1B with Edwin Espinal and play OF as well. That probably leaves him to top out at Indy in 2016 and then the Pirates will go from there based on how well he does.

        Indianapolis already has Bell at 1B, Garcia, Rojas and Ortiz in the outfield, with either(or both) Keon Broxton and Jake Goebbert filling another spot. They could move Barrett Barnes up too, so it’s crowded there

        • Be nice to see an aggressive push but Huntington noted that they pushed Pedro to early and believe this impacted his development. They could be gun shy- I would really like to see a prospect take charge and take a position.

          • Osuna turns 23 next week, so he is still a good age for AA. Part of his problem is that his best season was in 2012 and it took three years to get out of high-A ball after that. He is average defensively, doesn’t have speed and doesn’t take many walks, so there are flaws. If he starts hitting for more power during the summer(without losing anything else), then you can overlook those flaws because he would still have value. If he keeps being a low on base guy with 12-15 homers a year, then it’s tough to project anything more than a AAAA future.

        • I would think with the non-tender of Decker that Broxton will be in Pittsburgh this year. Can Garcia play some 1B or strictly OF?

  • Mr. D: He has to be on management’s radar. I have no idea about what type of pitching he has faced but this guy keeps on hitting.

    • That pitcher last night was Mitch Lively, who has spent the last four seasons in AAA. The night before it was off Jesus Zambrano, a 19-year-old the A’s are so high on, they had him skip from rookie league to AAA

      • Yes, I was taking a look at the rosters in the Venezuelan League, and the overall talent level mirrors what Osuna will be facing in the International League this coming season. This is impressive, since he has yet to reach that level officially in full season ball.

  • Wabbit_Season
    December 4, 2015 9:02 am

    When I went down to Toon-Town last summer, Osuna was the guy that stood out to me. Just strictly the eye test, but I felt strongly about the player then and have posted as much here.

    Not quite the man among boys that Cutch was, but – I dunno – you can just tell with some players.

    -Wabbit

    • I saw Osuna a handful of times when he was at WV and a few more since he’s been at Altoona and came away with the same conclusion. Especially in Charleston, he was on that team that had Polanco, Hanson, and Willy Garcia, and Osuna was consistently the guy that impressed me the most in the small sample of times I watched them play.

    • Careful Wabbit……the “eye test” will turn you into PP target. Never mind that you saw him in person.

  • John, is Osuna raising his prospect stock with his performance this winter? Looking at his stats, he’s always seemed to hit pretty well and I remember he is reported to have very good plate discipline. What is the ceiling for this kid? Is he a legitimate major leaguer? I know Bell will (hopefully) be blocking him at 1st, but are the skills good enough to make him an asset in Pittsburgh?

    • Osuna does have a future in Pittsburgh, because his power just developed like it was supposed to. This kid is not just hitting mistakes out of the ballpark, he drove an up and in pitch to the end of the earth. The power is real and the approach is exactly what the Pirates are looking for. For multiple seasons in a row, Osuna did not strike out much or walk much. He walks now because opposing pitchers are wary of that power.

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