No Reason Castro & Osuna Can’t Be Successful

by Brandon Jopko | Posted on Saturday, April 4th, 2015
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Castro and Osuna, respectively, will start the year in Toronto's bullpen.

Castro, left and Osuna, right, will start the year in Toronto’s bullpen.

There’s something about putting two 20 year olds in the bullpen that might appear foolhardy. “They need more experience,” someone might say. “They aren’t quite developed yet,” people may retort. However, what the Toronto Blue Jays have on its hands are two young studs in Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna that have risen more quickly than ever imagined. Castro has spent just over two years in the minors and features a fastball that sits 96-99 mph along with a plus changeup and slider; last season he advanced three levels all the way to High-A. Collectively, he had a line of 8-3, 2.69 ERA, 80.1 IP, 0.99 WHIP, 8.7 SO9, 3.4 BB9 and 0.7 HR9 in 2014. This spring though, he’s continued his dominance allowing only 7 hits, 3 ER, 10 SO, 0 BB in 11.1 IP. Russell Martin told Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun,

“His stuff, the velocity of his fastball, the movement of his fastball and the way he locates it and how the changeup works off of it and also his slider (is first-rate),” Russell said. “He has some nice weapons to go through anybody at any level. He’s got overpowering stuff and we’re all starting to see it.”

Even Josh Thole piped in when asked if he thinks Castro can dominate in the big leagues,

“In my short experience with him, I’d say most definitely. If he stays healthy, with that arm, the way he moves the ball it’s unbelievable.”

Like Castro, Osuna also reached High-A last year and features a 97, 98 mph sinker to pair with a very good slider and nasty changeup, but he also has a very polished make-up and feel for pitching. He pitched 11.1 innings this spring allowing 10 hits, 3 ER, 13 SO, and 5 BB. He brings four seasons of pro experience with him up north as he started as a 16 year old in the Mexican league and made his way back from Tommy John surgery last season. Given their tools, why can’t they be successful right now in the majors? The notion that some maintain in Toronto is one of “We’re Toronto, we’re not supposed to have nice things.” Why do we always have to gawk at the Cardinals or Athletics or Yankees at what they have? As a Blue Jays fan, we deserve to have nice things too! For comparison sake, the following are stats of some other relievers who excelled in their rookie season. A lot of them, as you can see, made the jump to MLB in lightening quick time, others took a little longer more akin to the conventional time line.

Name Age Rookie Year Time in Minors ERA+ IP WHIP SO9 BB9 HR9 WAR
Huston Street 21 2005 2 months 254 78.1 1.00 8.3 3.0 0.3 2.9
Joba Chamberlain 21 2007 12 months 1221 24.0 0.75 12.8 2.3 0.4 1.4
Chris Sale 21 2010 1 month 225 23.1 1.07 12.3 3.9 0.8 1.2
Craig Kimbrel 22 2010 24 months 914 20.2 1.21 17.4 7.0 0.0 0.7
Ryan Cook* 25 2012 over 3 yrs 187 73.1 0.94 9.8 3.3 0.5 2.6
Sean Doolittle 25 2012 2 mos. as a RP 129 47.1 1.07 11.4 2.1 0.6 0.8
Trevor Rosenthal 22 2012 under 2.5 yrs 139 22.2 0.92 9.9 2.8 0.8 0.4
Kevin Siegrist 23 2013 over 4 yrs 832 39.2 0.88 11.3 4.1 0.2 1.9
Michael Wacha** 21 2013 under 1 yr 135 64.2 1.09 9.0 2.6 0.7 1.7
Carlos Martinez 21 2013 over 3 yrs 75 28.1 1.41 7.6 2.9 0.3 -0.2
Dellin Betances* 26 2014 over 7 yrs 277 90.0 0.78 13.5 2.4 0.4 3.7
*Betances and Cook each made their debuts earlier
**Wacha also made 9 starts

People forget how dominate Street and Chamberlain were when they first appeared in the big leagues. Street took over as closer for the Athletics in early June of 2010 and amassed 23 saves. Chamberlain had that little 15 1/3 scoreless inning streak to begin his career. Sale went from being drafted early June to signing with the White Sox and throwing all of 10 1/3 minor league innings before making his debut. Doolittle was actually a first baseman in the minors before switching to the mound and was promoted after having thrown 26 minor league innings. I included Martinez in the list above too since he was also young when he made his debut and yet wasn’t completely dominate, and that’s okay. He still helped his team get to the playoffs and reach the World Series. In the case of Betances, you’re ready when you’re ready. For nearly half of the players listed above, despite having minimal professional experience, it is possible for someone to come in and dominate. So what’s to be expected of Castro and Osuna for the 2015 version of the Blue Jays? Honestly, the sky is the limit. If young pitchers like Sale and Wacha, Street and Chamberlain, Kimbrel and Rosenthal can be successful, why can’t ours? In my book, it’s certainly time to start expecting the best and stop expecting failure. Besides, the Jose Reyes is pretty high on them as he told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet,

“…just to come to big-league camp and perform the way they did, it seems like they have a couple of years in the big-leagues. It’s real good to see so much confidence. To have guys in the back of your bullpen that can throw 98 and throw strikes as 20 year olds, that’s something special.”

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference

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Brandon Jopko
About the Author

Senior Writer for Baseball Hot Corner and die-hard Blue Jays fan longing for another chance to experience his team in playoff glory. You can visit his blog at or follow him on Twitter @pumpedupjays

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  • Gary Mugford

    Another factor that obviously doesn’t show up in most numerical predictive calculations is the ‘new look’ factor. The young’uns with the Jays will benefit from an incomplete book on them out of the starting gate. Add in a currently healthy offence (hear that, Edwin, HEALTHY … and you can ignore me completely Mr. Saunders), the odds are that the Jays will get a chance to get out to a good start. And that start will be at the expense of their division mates. Now, if the league starts to catch up to them at some point, the good start will hopefully have given Anthopoulos the chance to arrange his ‘extra’ Rogers money and extended book on his organizational charts and go shopping accordingly.

    How will the young pitchers do season long? They’ll have their down moments after some initial success. HOW they react and re-adjust to their individual fallow periods will give us a glimpse into what the Jays really have. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to hope both Osuna and Castro go wire-to-wire as reasonable bullpen pieces. And if Boyd were to come up later, I’d be the least surprised person in Jays fandom. Castro as the closer isn’t a stretch at all. Stars and near-stars treat AAA as that great land the plane flies over. As for Norris and Sanchez, we’ve all seen enough to know they can pitch in the big leagues. Will extended looks let the eagle eyes on other teams expose flaws? Of course. But I believe in the credo that once you have shown a skill or skills, you have that skill. I think it’s unreasonable to talk of either as staff aces. This year. And with Hutchinson and Stroman, maybe any year. But valuable rotation assets? Absolutely yes.

    The Blue Jay model for the rest of this decade is predicated on extremes of salary scale. There will be a handful of $20M+ players and a large number of pre-arb and early arb pieces, mostly on the pitching staff. When they, in turn, hopefully develop into the newest version of the Braves’ model from their successful years, a wave of positional players with economic salaries will balance the scales.

    A top and bottom model works wonderfully if the stars earn their wages and the grunts occasionally outperform their contracts. And I think the 2015 Blue Jays are well-poised to do just that. Colour me very, very optimistic.

    Just like last year. Groan.

    Wonderful site which I’ve added to my regular visit list. Thanks for your work. GM

    • Brandon Jopko

      Thanks Gary! Your comments are much appreciated!

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