Jose Osuna Finally Reaches His Goal

PITTSBURGH—Jose Osuna’s long climb to the major leagues is finally complete. But it took the suspension of Starling Marte to happen.

The first baseman/outfielder was the Pirates’ last cut before heading north. Osuna lost out to utility players Phil Gosselin and Alen Hanson and was optioned to Triple-A.

But the 2009 signee from Venezuela opened eyes with a strong performance in the Grapefruit League, hitting .407/.492/.759 with five home runs and 17 RBIs. So when Marte was hit with an 80-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing drug, the 24-year-old was called up.

His righthanded power, along with an improving plate approach, offsets the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder’s lack of defensive prowess and speed.

“He’s mature in the box,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He has a slow heartbeat. He’s going to defend the way he defends. His best position is first there’s no doubt. Can he go to third? Yes. Outfield? the range is the range. What he gets to, he’s going to handle. In the box, though, is where I believe he’s going to be an impactful player.”

The native of Venezuela began his eighth professional season at Indianapolis, where he also finished last season. Through his first 10 games of 2017, Osuna batted .250/.341/.389 with five doubles.

He had a breakthrough year in 2016, hitting a combined .279/.331/.457 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs in 133 games with Indianapolis and Double-A Altoona.

Osuna took ground balls at third base during spring training, though he did not appear in any exhibition games. He could see his first professional action at the hot corner this season.

“He’s got some nice feet and hands at first base and maybe that will transfer to third base,” Hurdle said. “It’s something worth considering. You’re always hoping that your players can be as versatile as possible.”


Righthander Johnny Barbato was acquired from the Yankees for cash considerations and optioned to Indianapolis. The 24-year-old made his major league debut last season, going 1-2, 7.62 in 13 relief appearances.

Righthander Yoandy Fernandez, who pitched in Serie Nacional in his native Cuba from 2007-13, was signed to a minor league contract and sent to extended spring training. The 28-year-old defected to Mexico in 2014 but had gone unsigned, reportedly because he had been seeking a major-league contract.

— John Perrotto is a writer based in Beaver Falls, Pa.

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