Repeating History

Royals select Braves' Osuna in Rule 5

KANSAS CITY—Selecting Edger Osuna with the fourth overall pick in the Rule 5 draft seemed like a natural fit for the Royals.

Osuna comes from the Braves farm system. General manager Dayton Moore was in the Braves front office in 2004 when they signed Osuna and he has a history of signing Braves players.

Osuna is lefthanded, something the Royals have a pressing need for. Plus, there are parallels between Osuna and Royals all-star closer Joakim Soria.

Osuna is from Mazatlan, Mexico, turned 22 on Nov. 25 and is pitching well in the winter Mexico Pacific League, with a 1-0, 1.40 record in 15 games, 14 in relief. The last time the Royals made a Rule 5 selection was 2006 when they struck gold by drafting then 22-year-old Mexican righthander Soria, who led the Mexico Pacific League that winter with nine victories.

Osuna, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 165 pounds, has a marginal fastball, but has pinpoint accuracy. He uses his fastball to set up a plus changeup, which was rated the best in the Braves organization, and a good, slow curve.

He split last season between high Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Mississippi, going a combined 7-10, 4.02, while walking 35 and striking out 105 in 150 innings.

In four minor league seasons, Osuna is 22-19, 3.37 in 76 games, including 48 starts. He has averaged two walks per nine innings, while striking out 8.3 per nine.
The Royals view Osuna as a starter, but he could be used out of the bullpen in 2010 if necessary to keep him on the 25-man roster. The Royals released veteran lefthander John Bale before the Rule 5 draft to make room for Osuna. Dusty Hughes, who was a September call up, is the only other lefthander on the 40-man roster.

The Royals used lefthanders Bruce Chen, Lenny DiNardo, Horacio Ramirez and Hughes for a combined 16 starts in 2009, but they went a combined 1-11 in those starts.

• Righthander Bryan Bullington, the first overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Pirates, has signed a minor league contract with the Royals with an invitation to spring training. Ironically, the Royals drafted Bullington in 1999 in the 37th round out of high school, but he opted to go to Ball State.

• The Royals signed lefthanded-hitting catcher Steve Lerud to a minor league contract and added him to the non-roster invitees list. Lerud was a 2003 Pirates' fourth-round pick and has a .228 average with 42 home runs and 224 RBIs in 519 games in the minors.