Jose Osuna has been on fire since the start of Spring Training. If this continues, how difficult will it be for the Pittsburgh Pirates to plot his future?
The Pittsburgh Pirates learned a hard lesson from Juan Nicasio last spring.
Spring Training is not about the stats.
We saw that last year when Andrew McCutchen hit .295/.392/.727 with six home runs down south and followed it with his worst year as a pro. No, spring training is about players testing out and tweaking things they have been working on in the offseason for the first time in live game action. It is all about the #process.
That being said, 1b/OF Jose Osuna has been a pleasant surprise this spring. In 20 at-bats, he has ten hits including four home runs and a double. He has drawn four free passes compared to just three strike outs. Just for fun, Osuna has a line of .500/.583/1.150 this spring. The team protected him from the Rule 5 draft by adding him to the 40-man roster, and many are now seeing why.
A Profile on Osuna
Osuna has been in the Pittsburgh Pirates system since 2010 when he played for the team’s Venezuelan summer team at the age of 17. Now 24, the first baseman/corner outfielder has worked his way through the system and was called up to Triple-A in the middle of last season. In 234 plate appearances with Indianapolis, Osuna hit .291/.333/.482 with seven home runs and 19 doubles. He walked 13 times compared to 36 strike outs. For his career, Osuna has hit .280/.337/.437 with 86 home runs over seven minor league seasons.
Standing at 6’3 and weighing 213 pounds, Osuna has power potential. He has hit at least 10 home runs every year in the minors and smacked 13 last year between Double and Triple-A. That being said, he is ranked as just the 29th best prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system according to MLB Pipeline.
So….can he make the team?
No matter how well he hits this spring, there is simply no spot for Osuna with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day.
The Pirates already have a logjam at first base with Josh Bell, John Jaso, and David Freese. Adding a fourth first baseman would create further confusion. Defensively, anything Osuna can do on the field can be done by Jaso or even Bell. Jaso will make $4 million this year, and is a bargain when accounting for his newfound versatility. Bell is a highly touted, top prospect and will rightfully see his first taste of a full major league season.
The best action the Pittsburgh Pirates can take with Osuna would be to let him start the year in Triple-A and see how he does. He only has 234 plate appearances at that level. Why rush it? If he ends up tearing the cover off the ball, a call up will ensue. Injuries happen and players struggle. Opportunities will arise.
For now, just enjoy this nice little spring training storyline. Another emerging young player is a boon for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He can either be utilized with the team at some point or be used as a trade chip if there is no room on the major league roster. B-type prospects are great assets to stockpile. A team would rather deal two B-type prospects than one bluechip top prospect. Come July, if the Pittsburgh Pirates are contending and need to add help, Osuna would be an expendable piece.