PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Leading the Pirates in homers this spring, 24-year-old Jose Osuna is “absolutely” in the running to make the Bucs’ Opening Day roster, according to manager Clint Hurdle.
With 5 homers and a team-leading 13 RBI, Osuna is making a bigger name for himself outside of the Pirates clubhouse. Inside, he’s been on the radar ever since hitting .331 in his first year in the Gulf Coast League.
“I got a lot of calls, ‘He’s on the 40-man, who is this guy?’ We’ll, it’s obvious you haven’t paid attention,” said Hurdle. “He’s been a developing player.”
Osuna started last year at Double-A Altoona and about halfway through the season debuted in Triple-A Indy, hitting .291 with 7 homers in 63 games.
“I’m having a good spring offensively, I have to keep trying to do that every day,” Osuna said. “I have to try to stay on the team. I have to keep working to get better every day.”
Adjustments and confidence have led to his good spring, along with staying sharp playing in Winter ball, which allowed him an edge coming into camp.
“I think he’s swinging the bat well,” Jordy Mercer said. “He’s got a really good swing, it’s not a Spring Training swing, where guys just get hot. You can tell it’s a pretty legit swing. He’s just going about his business the right way. He’s acting like a pro. It’s kinda refreshing and cool to see a young kid like that step in right away and just handle his own.”
“I saw a lot of guys like Mercer, pro player, nice guy, work hard all the time,” as Osuna said he’s watching and learning. “Same with McCutchen, Marte and Polanco, most of the time, you’re trying to see how they play to see how you can do too.”
Where Osuna needs to continue to improve is with his defense. A natural first baseman, Osuna has been moved around as the Bucs look at options for the Venezuela native.
“I feel good, I just have to keep working on it,” Osuna said. “Sometimes it’s a little bit harder for me because my position is first, I can play third too. I need to work in the outfield during batting practice, getting live reads.”
“Obviously, he’s having a hot spring. I understand you can’t read too much into that,” Jameson Taillon said. “But at the same time, I think his swing plays. I think he’s a great hitter. I think he’s going to open some eyes.”
Hurdle said he has a shot to make this club for Opening Day, noting “leading the club in RBIs and home runs, those are never bad things.”
“I think I have a chance, if you don’t make it you have to go to Triple-A, work hard and wait for the opportunity,” Osuna said.