When the Blue Jays began the regular season with Roberto Osuna and Miguel Castro in their bullpen two years ago, it left many people wondering how desperate their bullpen situation had become.
After all, having two 20-year-olds entrusted at such a young age is a rare occurrence. For Osuna at least, the Blue Jays certainly got it right bringing him up to the big club when they did. Since his rookie season, Osuna has accumulated 66 saves, posted a 2.64 ERA, and has quickly established himself as one of the best closers to ever play for the franchise.
So how did the Mexican closer rise to the Majors so quickly?
Well, one of the reasons for Osuna’s ascension had to do with the fact he was signed by the Blue Jays when he was just 16 years old. Players from the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico get picked up by a Major League franchise through the MLB Draft, something a player isn’t eligible for until they’ve at least finished high school. But players from outside those countries, like the native of Juan Jose Rios, are eligible to be signed as soon as they turn 16.
Osuna signed with the Blue Jays at age 16, meaning he could begin his minor league career at 17, getting a jump on the competition.
But Osuna still needed to prove himself, and prove himself he did.
His first real opportunity to do so came at Spring Training in 2015. He surprised a lot of people by pitching 12.1 innings that spring, while posting an impressive 2.19 ERA.
His spring is extra remarkable when you consider that the former Vancouver Canadian was coming from Single A, three levels below Major League Baseball.
Experience be damned, all that mattered after that memorable spring was that the young man could more than handle himself against big league hitters. It’s no surprise then that Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for Toronto that year when he ended up making his regular season pitching debut on April 8.
After 20 saves in his rookie year, Osuna had 36 last season. He picked up his 11th save of this season on Wednesday, despite an injury in April that caused him to miss the first week of the regular season.
The 22-year-old flame thrower is proving that age doesn’t matter, and the only question that matters is: ‘Can he pitch?’
And yes. Yes he can.