December 5, 2016 - Mexican League (ML)
With a month remaining in the regular season, Mexican Pacific League teams are beginning to load up their rosters for the stretch drive and the January playoffs. It's a longstanding tradition in the MexPac and the Jalisco Charros are making the most of it by bringing in one of the American League's top closers this week.
Toronto Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna, who grew up near former LMP city Guasave, Sinaloa, has signed a contract with Jalisco for the rest of the winterball season and is expected to join the Charros by Friday this week. Osuna's league rights were originally owned by Guasave before the Algodoneros moved to Guadalajara prior to the 2014-15 season. He becomes the second reliever with significant MLB experience to agree to terms with the Charros this year, along with former Giants middleman Sergio Romo, a nine-year veteran who is currently a free agent. Romo is expected to make his MexPac debut Tuesday in Mexicali.
Osuna signed with Toronto as a 16-year-old free agent for $1.5 million in 2011 after making 13 appearances out of the bullpen for the Mexican League's Mexico City Diablos Rojos that summer, going 0-1 with a 5.49 ERA. He spent three years in the Jays system but missed significant time after suffering an elbow injury in 2013 that required Tommy john surgery and sidelined him for over a year. After making the Jays as a non-roster spring training invitee, the 6'2" righthander made his Major League debut for Toronto at age 20 on April 8, 2015 against the New York Yankees and struck out the first batsman he faced, future Hall of Famer Alex Rodriguez.
Since then, Osuna has gone on to post 56 saves with a 2.63 earned-run average, including 36 saves for Toronto this year. He's also pitched 14 playoff games in relief for the Jays in 2015 and 2016, winning one game and saving another in the AL Division Series against Texas this fall. His 56 career saves are an MLB record for pitchers under 22 years old.
It's been quite a ride over the past decade for Osuna, who quite school at age 12 to help support his family by picking vegetables alongside his father Roberto Senior, who was 90-97 with a 4.07 ERA pitching in the Mexican League between 1984 to 1999 (going 37-25 in four summers with Monterrey from 1988-91). His uncle Antonio pitched eleven years in the Majors (six with the Dodgers) before wrapping up his career in the Liga, representing the Quintana Roo Tigres at the 2007 LMB All-Star Game.