September 27, 2012
Continuing with their League Top 20 Prospects series, Baseball America ranked three Bluefield Jays, Roberto Osuna, Santiago Nessy and Daniel Norris, on their Appalachian League list that was released yesterday.
Osuna was ranked the highest of the three at No. 8, after making the Appy League look like child’s play at the tender age of 17 years old. He was ranked the third-highest right-hander and fourth-highest pitcher overall on the list, behind Rays southpaw Blake Snell (52nd overall in 2011) and a pair of Braves right-handers Mauricio Cabrera (international FA) and Lucas Sims (21st overall in 2012). In the first part of his inaugural professional season on North American soil, Osuna managed a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings while with Bluefield, striking out 24 batters for an impressive 4.0 K:BB ratio. Baseball America noted that Osuna doesn’t have much projection remaining because of his mature, 230-pound frame, but his advanced pitchability is what makes him so good.
Coming in right behind Osuna on the list was Nessy, the higher of only two catchers on the list, at No. 20. Nessy’s calling card has always been his powerful, pull-friendly bat—which was displayed especially from August 11-16 when he hit a solo home run in four straight games—but it was his strong performance behind the plate that has made him a more complete prospect. As the league’s top defensive catcher, Nessy threw out 33 of basestealers and used his ability of being bilingual to be quite popular with his pitchers. Baseball America notes that there was some initial concern of Nessy’s longevity behind the plate given his thick, 230-pound frame, but even before the Appy League season started, Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava told me in May that there was “no chance” that they’d move Nessy off the plate.
Rounding out the trio of Jays prospects was left-hander Daniel Norris at No. 14. After a dominant relief appearance to start his pro career, Norris faltered down the stretch, posting a 9.00 ERA in his next 10 starts, thanks to allowing 44 hits in 31 innings over that stretch. Baseball America notes that Norris’ arm strength is evident but his mechanics, largely dragging his arm and “leaving him unable to over his front side and get extension” were the main reason for his struggles. When I talked to Bluefield pitching coach Antonio Caceres about Norris, he said exactly that: Norris’ stuff is there and it’s really good, but he’s struggling to repeat his delivery and that has thrown everything else off.
The next Blue Jays-related article in Baseball America’s series comes tomorrow when they profile the Northwest League, which could feature some Vancouver Canadians.