Pittsburgh Pirates: Jose Osuna Recalled from Triple-A
BREAKING NEWS: In wake of the Starling Marte suspension, the Pittsburgh Pirates were in need to make a roster move. The Pirates have made the obvious move.
With the MLB and the Pittsburgh Pirates announcing that Starling Marte has been suspended 80 games due to PEDs, the Pirates had to make a roster move. Marte is a player that will be impossible to replace immediately. Even if they would call up top prospect Austin Meadows, it would be hard to expect him to replace the level of production that Marte brings to the team. In fact, Marte is by far the most dynamic player on the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is the best defender on the roster, he can swipe more bags than anyone else, and was arguably their best all-around hitter in 2016.
So how will the Pittsburgh Pirates replace him? Well, down the road, it will likely be Austin Meadows. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates will not make a panic move and grant Meadows Super-Two status as a reaction to the Marte news. So Meadows likely will not be called up untill closer to June. Instead, the Pittsburgh Pirates made the obvious, and simple, move calling up Jose Osuna.
Jose Osuna was one of the darlings of the Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training. The big right handed hitter had a slash line of .407/.492/.759 with an OPS of 1.252. Also, he led the team in home runs with 5. Many fans were calling for Osuna to be brought north with the team, but with limited bench spots and options for specific players, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to make the roster smart move and keep him in Triple-A.
Osuna did not carry that hot bat to Triple-A with him, although he has not been terrible either. In ten games, Osuna has hit .250/.341/.389 giving him an OPS of .730. So not what he was doing in Spring, but not horrific either. In fact, one could attribute his slow start at Triple-A to him being a little disappointed that he was back there. If that is the case, he may be rejuvenated getting the call to The Show.
As of now, there is no clear-cut decision on how the outfield will be aligned. The simple choice would be to move Andrew McCutchen back to center field. The reason being that he has a good amount of experience there in his career. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates might decide that they want to keep McCutchen in right field and not ask him to move back to a position that they forcefully moved him from. So, Gregory Polanco, who is younger and more athletic at this point, might be the player to captain the outfield.
So, Gregory Polanco, who is younger and more athletic at this point might be the player to captain the outfield. If that is the case, it is likely that we will see Adam Frazier and possibly Josh Harrison in left. Although given their UZR/150 stats, Frazier has been superior in left compared to Harrison. Frazier in a small sample size has a UZR/150 of 29. Meanwhile, Josh Harrison has played left field in three different seasons and has posted a negative UZR/150 in each of them.
If the Pittsburgh Pirates decide to put McCutchen back in center field, they may give Osuna a chance to play every day in right field. Right field would be the best spot for Jose Osuna. He is not a gifted athlete by any means. Nevertheless, he could be adequate for most right fields in baseball.
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The other idea that there has been is to move Josh Bell back to right field. This would allow Osuna to play at first, his more natural position. While this may make sense, the Pittsburgh Pirates should not do this. This is for the same reason they should keep Cutch in right field. For the last two years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have worked to make Josh Bell a competent first baseman, to move him back to the outfield would not be good for his development. So far this season, Bell looks improved at first, also his bat is starting to come around. If you move him to the outfield, Bell could lose his focus as he tries to convert back to the outfield. Let him continue to play first and continue to become more comfortable and confident playing there.
All in all, replacing Starling Marte is going to be impossible. However, Jose Osuna is now going to be given a shot at the major league level. Osuna was very good in Spring Training and in the minors last year, batting .291 in Triple-A. Now, the Bucs are getting a chance to see what they have in him. However, the circumstance is not a good thing for him to be up here. Osuna could see some time in the outfield, but it likely will be some combination of Frazier, Harrison, and Hanson instead.
For the short term future, the Pittsburgh Pirates are rolling with a top 30 prospect to help fill out the bench. If Osuna is being productive, he will likely last on the roster. If not, the Pittsburgh Pirates may be seeing Austin Meadows up by early June, and not post-trade deadline like many expected to enter the year.