The thing that stands out as being most remarkable about Roberto Osuna is how advanced he seems as a pitcher, how comfortable he is with his craft. It's remarkable, because Osuna is barely 18 years old.
The second-ranked Blue Jays prospect, one of the few players born in 1995 to begin the year playing full-season ball, has come out the gate dealing for Class A Lansing.
On Thursday, the 2011 international signing out of Mexico held Quad Cities to just one run on one hit and a walk while striking out eight over five innings, leading the Lugnuts to a 6-2 win over the River Bandits.
It was the third time in Osuna's four starts this season he was able to limit the opposing lineup to one run in at least 4 2/3 innings. In 18 1/3 frames, the right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA. More promisingly, he has 26 strikeouts and only three walks.
"His uncle [Antonio Osuna] pitched in the Major Leagues for a long time, so he understands the culture over here, how to pitch," said Lansing manager John Tamargo. "He's just a really good kid, gets along with everybody, very well advanced for his age."
Osuna ought to be used to pitching to older hitters by now. In 2011, before the Blue Jays inked him to a deal, he made 13 appearances -- two of them starts -- for Mexico City in the Mexican League. He posted a 5.49 ERA in 19 2/3, 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 punchouts, and walked 15.
"It's not shocking at all that he can come up here and do the things he's doing," said 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.
"His stuff is outstanding and he's just got to get his first full season pitching in. This is a pretty big step for him to go five months, to prepare every five days for five months," Tamargo noted. "He's looked very well all season so far. He has great composure for an 18-year-old kid and a really good arm. He always enjoys coming to the ballpark, doing his job.
"Right now he's a strike thrower and those things are getting better daily, from start to start. We expect him to keep improving."
On Thursday, Chris Hawkins and Carlos Ramirez homered to lead the Lugnuts offense. No. 16 Toronto prospect Dalton Pompey went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored out of the leadoff spot.