Roberto is the nephew of Antonio Osuna, who spent 11 years in the Majors as a relief pitcher. And his father pitched in Mexico. So he's been around the game his whole life.
In 2010, Roberto pitched for Mexico at the Pan American 16-and-under championship.
Afterward, he signed with the Mexico City Red Devils of the Mexican League and made his pro debut at age 15.
In July 2011, the Blue Jays purchased Osuna's rights for a reported $1.5 million.
In 2012, Baseball America rated Osuna as the 30th-best prospect in the Blue Jays organization. They moved Roberto all the way up to #6 in the winter before 2013 spring training. And he was at #7 in the offseason before both the 2014 and the 2015 spring camps opened.
When he signed, baseball folks had a concern about his body and conditioning, but he's done a very good job of keeping that in check. (November 2012)
Osuna has a great disposition and is a good teammate and good person.
In 2015, Osuna was the youngest player in the American League and was nothing short of spectacular since embracing the closer role. He has major potential to be the Blue Jays closer of the future.
The real question is: Should we be surprised?
Roberto has always been some kind of special. When he was 12, Osuna was throwing the ball between 75-80 MPH at a tournament in Columbia. At 14 years old, it was 89-90 MPH. At 15, it was 95 MPH. Now, his fastball sits at 96-99 MPH.
It was in his early years when Osuna walked away from school to dedicate his life to baseball and pitch in Japan. He was throwing against players almost 10 years older than him. At 16 (the year that Toronto originally signed him), he was pitching professionally in Mexico, facing hitters that were twice his age, some were even ex-pros.
“I was a bit nervous, especially because my dad had a new career there at the time,” Osuna told the Toronto Star, “I faced a couple of ex-big leaguers, but to be honest, they couldn’t hit my fastball. So I said they can’t hit it, so what I have to do is go out and make good pitches.”
At 18 years old, while looking forward to his debut in Dunedin, Osuna tore a ligament in his elbow and is now 23 months removed from Tommy John surgery. You can’t tell when you see him pitch, though. His fastball has flourished and successfully translated to Major League Baseball. He also hasn’t been shy about its usage. Roberto Osuna has thrown 564 fastballs during the 2015 campaign. Batters aren’t generating much luck, hitting for a .214 average with a BABIP of .266. The changeup is his second most common pitch, but he has thrown it only 133 times this year.
The righthander has always been the young pitcher striking out older players, and his mental make-up on the mound shows it. Whether he is having success, or down 2-0 in a count with runners in scoring position, you will see an emotionless figure on the mound. It isn’t until the job is done that the youngster will show the passion that he pitches with.
His experience in professional ball shows each time he’s on the mound. (Dustin Saracini/Aug. 19, 2015 )
At 12, Roberto quit school to work with his father picking vegetables in the fields in Northern Mexico. Four years later, he was pitching against grown men in the Mexican League. In October 2015, the unflappable reliever made his playoff debut with the Blue Jays as the youngest player in the Majors. The 20-year old rookie closer wasn't even born when the Blue Jays made their last postseason appearance.
Osuna comes from a baseball family. His father, Roberto, pitched in Mexico during a career that spanned 22 years. And his uncle, Antonio Osuna, pitched in the Majors for 11 years. But after retiring, Roberto Osuna Sr. ran into financial troubles and had to work the fields.
"At home, I was the older brother, plus twin brothers and a sister. We were four, five with my mom," Osuna said in an interview with The Associated Press. "My dad was the only one working, but not earning enough money to support us."
Osuna's father had a family with 10 brothers. And once he retired, the money he saved during his playing career ran out after four years.
"I made the decision to leave school, which frankly I didn't like anyway," said the Blue Jays pitcher. "My father told me that I had the choice of dropping out of school and come work with him in the fields, to earn more money for us."
The younger Osuna recalls the hard work with his father, waking up at 5:00 a.m. "We picked tomatoes, potatoes, pickles, and more," he said. "We got back home around 5:00 p.m. for about seven months. It was tough."
In the evenings, Osuna practiced with his father. "I was a pitcher since age 12. I only wanted to be a pitcher," Osuna said.
Roberto played with Little League teams that went on tours in Japan and Italy. He made his professional debut in 2011 with Diablos Rojos, a team in the Mexican League. Scouts from Major League teams soon noticed his talent, with the Blue Jays acquiring him with a $1.5 million bonus. With the money, he bought a new house for his mother in Los Mochis, a town in the northern state of Sinaloa. He also paid for prostate surgery for his father and private school for his brothers. His teammates are impressed, particularly LaTroy Hawkins, another reliever who at 42 was the oldest pitcher in the Majors, before retiring after 2015.
"Growing up where he grew up in Mexico, I think that adds to how tough he is and his makeup, his character and the person he is," Hawkins said. "He was pitching in the Mexican League at 16 years old. I think that helps him. That puts him a little step ahead of other 20-year-olds around the game. He's comfortable being uncomfortable, growing up where he grew up. You're always aware of your surroundings, and you always have a plan, and that's Osuna. (Ian Harrison - Oct., 2015)
Osuna's path to the Majors included Tommy John surgery in 2013 at age 18.
In 2015, he was a non-roster invitee in spring training, with the idea of getting some experience. Armed with a blazing fastball, a slider and a changeup, he made the team despite never pitching above Class A, then claimed the closer job in June 2015. After a regular season in which his 68 games established a record for a relief pitcher younger than 21, Osuna pitched two perfect innings in a 6-4 loss against the Texas Rangers in his playoff debut on Oct. 9, 2015.
"Despite being so young, he looks much more like a veteran player," said Jose Bautista. "He already has one of the most difficult qualities a young player reaches, which is feeling confident about his talent, that serenity when you're competing, and in particular in high-leverage situations, when the game is on the line."
Osuna says pitching in the playoffs is normal. He only needed to recall his childhood. "It was like when I went to Japan," he said. "I was alone. I love challenges. That was something that didn't scare me, saved the sadness of being away from my family." (Ian Harrison - Oct., 2015)
Aug 13, 2016: Osuna has experienced a lot for someone who is 21 years old, and now his rapid ascent to the big leagues has resulted in a pretty big milestone.
Osuna tied the Major League record for most saves before a pitcher's 22nd birthday during the Blue Jays' 4-2 victory over the Astros. It was Osuna's 26th save of the season and the 46th of his career, which placed him alongside Terry Forster.
The native of Mexico seems all but officially guaranteed to own the record in the coming days or weeks. Osuna does not turn 22 until Feb. 7, 2017, so barring injury, he should be able to blow past the record that Forster set with the White Sox during the early 1970s.
"It means a lot," Osuna said of the record. "It means a lot obviously. I thank God for the opportunity to be here with the Blue Jays, because they were the first ones who trusted me. So thanks a lot."
Osuna has been nearly flawless ever since he broke into the Majors at the beginning of last season at 20 years old. He emerged during Spring Training and has not looked back since, converting all but five of his 51 save opportunities, including a current streak of 13 in a row (as of August 14, 2016).
There was a time when Osuna was viewed as a potential future cornerstone of the starting rotation. That plan changed last year, when the club decided to speed up his development by moving him to the bullpen to help fill a major area of weakness. That allowed Osuna to become one of the top relievers in baseball, and it's possible he has found a permanent home in the ninth inning. (G Chisholm - MLB.com - Aug 13, 2016)
Roberto's uncle, Antonio, pitched in the Majors for 11 seasons from 1995 through 2005—six with the Dodgers; two with the White Sox; and one each with the Yankees, Padres and Nationals. However, Osuna has said, he has not spoken much with his uncle about his career. He learned baseball from his father. When the Blue Jays signed him for $1.5 million, the first part of the money went to his family.
"I gave my mother a house," he said in an interview with Canada's National Post. "I put my brothers and sister into school. I bought a rental house. And I invested. And I put some money aside for the future." (Adler - MLB.com - 10/3/16)
December 2016: Osuna committed to play for Mexico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
January 24, 2017: Osuna was honored in his native Mexico in recognition of his strong 2016 season.
Roberto was named the 2016 recipient of National Sports Award, handed out annually by Mexico's National Commission for Sport. He was presented the award by Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto at a ceremony in Mexico City.
June 24, 2017: Osuna spoke through a translator before Toronto's second game of a three-game series in Kansas City. He wasn't available to play the previous night, despite the Blue Jays holding a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. The Royals scored three runs against Toronto relievers Ryan Tepera, Aaron Loup and Jason Grilli to rally for the win.
"This has nothing to do with me being on the field, I feel great out there," said Osuna, brim of his ball cap pulled down over his eyes as he spoke to reporters. "It's just when I'm out of baseball, when I'm not on the field, that I feel weird and a little bit lost."
He was asked if he'd ever felt this way before and, circumventing the translator he replied: "Never." Paddy Steinford, the Blue Jays' mental performance coach who travels with the team, has been working with Osuna to overcome his anxiety.
The 22-year-old Osuna has 19 saves with 37 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched this season. He became the youngest player in Major League Baseball to reach 75 career saves, with his 19th of the season.
Despite the fast start to his career, Osuna's not sure what he can do to improve his mental health. "I wish I knew how to get out of here and how to get out of this," he said through the translator. "We're working on it, we're trying to find ways to see what can make me feel better. But to be honest, I just don't know." (Jun 25, 2017 -Waterloo Region Record)
April 10, 2018: Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna recorded the 100th save of his career, closing the book on a 2-1 victory over the Orioles. In doing so, Osuna became the youngest pitcher to reach 100 saves. He was 23 years and 62 days old.
May 8, 2018: Osuna was placed on administrative leave by the Commissioner's Office after being arrested and charged with assault.
Osuna was later released by the police and is scheduled to appear in a Toronto court on June 18. Major League Baseball confirmed it is "investigating the circumstances." Osuna's administrative leave is in accordance with the joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence Policy.
May 17, 2018: Osuna was ordered to remain at least 100 meters away from a building near Lake Shore Blvd. W. and Strachan Ave. in downtown Toronto, according to court documents acquired by Vjosa Isai and Wendy Gillis of the Toronto Star.
Additionally, Osuna is not permitted to communicate with the woman he's been charged with assaulting after his arrest on May 8. A condition of his release states he cannot possess weapons or consume alcohol. Osuna is scheduled to appear in a court designated for domestic offences on June 18.
The 23-year-old was placed on administrative leave by MLB following his arrest. This leave has been extended through May 21 amid the investigation and there is no timetable for his return to the Blue Jays.
June 22-Aug 4, 2018: Roberto was issued a 75-game suspension without pay that will run through Aug. 4 for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy.
September 25, 2018: The Astros released the following statement regarding Osuna, who agreed to a peace bond for one year.
"Today, the Ontario Court of Justice withdrew the assault charge against Roberto Osuna. The Houston Astros look forward to Roberto continuing his commitment to be a productive and caring part of our community.
"The Astros remain committed to increase our support regarding the issues of domestic violence and abuse of any kind. We have engaged with a number of local, state and national organizations—and we look forward to working with them in the short term and over the long term." (Brian McTaggart -MLB)
July 2011: The Blue Jays purchased Osuna's rights for a reported $1.5 million.
July 30, 2018: The Blue Jays traded Osuna to the Astros for RHP David Paulino, RHP Hector Perez, and RHP Ken Giles.
- Jan 11, 2019: Osuna and the Astros avoided arbitration agreeing to a one-year deal.
|Birth City:||Juan Jose Rios, Mexico|
|Draft:||2011 - Blue Jays - Free agent|
Osuna has an 89-93 mph two-seam SINKER and a 91-98 mph four-seam FASTBALL that generates swings-and-misses. He has good feel for an 85-87 mph SLIDER, and a plus 82-85 mph CHANGEUP (a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale) with an extreme amount of backspin. He also has an 84-86 mph slurvy-SLIDER, but needs a consistent released point and grip for it. He also has a 90-92 mph CUTTER gets flyballs. (Spring, 2018)
Roberto's curve does not have a tight downward break, but has more of a slurvy three-quarters break. His changeup is difficult to hit because he locates it down in the zone with good arm speed. Improving his slider is a key for his future success. It has flashed 60, but is most times a 40 on the 20-80 scouting scale. (Spring 2015)
He can add and subtract velocity from his fastball, as needed, locating it where he desires.
“My velocity is there,” Osuna said before the start of the 2015 season. “All my pitches are there. I’ve got to work a little bit on my control and my command of the fastball, work on the corners. But the big thing is staying healthy.”
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 59.3% of the time; Sinker 6.1% of the time; Change 7.3%; Slider 23.4% of the time; and Cutter 3.9% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 49.5% of the time; Sinker 5%; Change 10.7%; Slider 13.3%; and Cutter 21.4% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 95.8 mph, Sinker 95.4, Change 83.9, Slider 87.2, and Cutter 91.2 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 44.3% of the time; Sinker 4.4%; Change 18%; Slider 88.2%; and his Cutter 15.4% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 96.9 mph, Sinker 96.1, Change 84.6, Slider 88.2, and Cutter 91.5 mph.
Roberto finishes a bit upright in his delivery, but he’s aggressive and pounds the strike zone. It is a clean delivery from a loose, quick arm, throwing very easily with a wrist wrap in the back. He has advanced control and a feel for pitching.
He's not a finesse pitcher; he is physical and has power stuff.
Osuna ought to be used to pitching to older hitters by now. In 2011, at age 16, before the Blue Jays inked him to a deal, he made 13 appearances for Mexico City in the Mexican League. He posted a 5.49 ERA in 20 innings, striking out 12 and walking 11.
At 16, he was pitching in a league that is considered to be Triple-A level competition. The next season, he posted a 2.27 ERA in 43 2/3 innings between the Rookie-level Appalachian League and the Class A Short-Season Northwest League. He struck out over a batter an inning, with 49 punch-outs, and walked 15.
"It's not shocking at all that he can come up here and do the things he's doing," said Blue Jays minor league manager John Tamargo. "I've seen him since he was signed by Toronto, and he's an extremely competitive kid. When he's out there he's locked in, when it's his turn to start he's ready to go."
Tamargo said that this season Osuna's velocity has been anywhere from about 89-90 mph (when he uses a two-seam fastball) to as high as 97 (when he unleashes his four-seamer). He also has a decent changeup he's been working on more and more.
2014 Season: Roberto routinely misses bats. His strikeout rate in the Florida State League was 12.3 per 9 innings.
In 2015, 2016, and 2017 as the Blue Jays' closer, he had more strikeouts than innings pitched. He has developed into one of the most reliable closers in MLB.
- 2019 Season: En route to leading the Junior Circuit in saves with 38 and the Majors in games finished with 56, Osuna recorded a 2.63 ERA with a 0.88 WHIP and 73 K's in 65 innings for the AL's winningest team.
- As of the start of the 2020 season, Roberto has a career record of 14-18 with 2.75 ERA, having allowed 28 home runs and 227 hits, struck out 345, with 154 saves in 180 opportunities [85.6%] in 310 innings.
May–June 8, 2013: Osuna was on the D.L. with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. He tried rehab for a month or so, but then relented to surgery.
July 2013: He had Tommy John surgery.
April-August 1, 2014: Roberto rehabbed from his Tommy John procedure.
- April 2-11, 2017: The Blue Jays opened the season without their closer after it was revealed that Osuna had been placed on the 10-day disabled list with cervical spasms.