Roberto Osuna Strikes Out 13 In Northwest League Debut

When the Blue Jays paid $1.5 million to sign Roberto Osuna from the Mexico City Red Devils last year, scouts said they were getting a pitcher with considerable polish for a 16-year-old.

Osuna and Venezuelan righthander Victor Sanchez, who signed with the Mariners for $2.5 million, were generally considered the top two pitching prospects on the international market last year. The two faced each other tonight, and while Sanchez was solid, Osuna was spectacular in his debut for short-season Vancouver.

Osuna, now 17, struck out 13 of the 19 batters he faced in five shutout innings, surrendering only one hit and one walk. According to Vancouver, Osuna set a franchise record for strikeouts in a game. Osuna has worked this year with a fastball from the low-to-mid 90s, showing feel for both his breaking ball and his changeup while filling up the strike zone. 

The Blue Jays gave Osuna an aggressive assignment by skipping him over the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and having him open in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, where he left with a 1.50 ERA and a 24-6 K-BB mark in 24 innings. Given Osuna's track record as a star for Mexico during international youth tournaments and his experience pitching in games for Mexico City when he was 16, it's not a surprise that the Blue Jays have pushed Osuna, but it's remarkable that he was able to dominate an Everett lineup that had only two batters younger than 21.

For his part, Sanchez was solid, striking out eight in six innings while allowing three earned runs (five overall) with no walks and eight hits. Baseball America subscribers will get an update on Sanchez and some of the other top 2011 international signings in the coming days.