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2011 MLB Draft Prospects Preview -- Josh Osich

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As we continue to profile players who the Texas Rangers have been linked to, projected to take, or are known to have interest in selecting with their top picks in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft, at #33 and #37, we now turn to Oregon State lefthanded pitcher Josh Osich.

Osich did not pitch in 2009-10, red-shirting after undergoing Tommy John surgery, although Anaheim nevertheless drafted him in the 7th round last year.  As a red-shirt junior, Osich is older than most first-day draftees, as he will turn 23 in September of this year -- to put this in perspective, he's just a month younger than Elvis Andrus, and four months younger than Neftali Feliz.

Baseball America has Osich ranked #41 in their top 200 draft prospects list.  BA says Osich can hit 97 mph with his fastball, although he usually sits at 93-94 mph, and has a quality changeup.  Given his age, velocity and strong two-pitch repertoire, they see him fast-tracked as a reliever.

Keith Law has a write-up on Osich from April, when he was still be handled with kid gloves by Oregon State, and mentions that Osich has thrown as hard as 98.

Kevin Goldstein has Osich going to Texas at #33 in his mock draft from yesterdayKeith Law's initial mock draft, done in mid-May, also had Osich going to Texas at #33.

Law's most recent top 100 rankings has Osich at #49.

Osich gained a lot of attention by throwing a no-hitter against the UCLA Bruins on April 30, 2011, in a game in which he allowed just 1 baserunner, struck out 13, and threw 121 pitches.

You can check out an interview with Osich done immediately after that game here.  There's video of him on YouTube warming up here, and you can see the 9th inning of his no-hitter here.

Since Jon Daniels took over as general manager, the Rangers have not used a "true" first round pick on a college pitcher.  They have used a pair of supplemental firsts on college pitchers -- Tommy Hunter in 2007 and Tanner Scheppers in 2009.  Osich seems on the surface to be comparable to Scheppers, a flamethower with two quality pitches who is older than most first rounders who is thought to be able to move quickly to join a major league bullpen.

I haven't seen anything to indicate that Osich's bonus demands are out of line, and if the Rangers think he would sign for slot, he could be someone they'd grab at #33 with an eye on him potentially joining the major league bullpen this season.  If they don't see him as an immediate contributor, I suspect that, if they were to draft him, they'd follow a similar path with him that they have with Tanner Scheppers, developing him as a starter in the minors with the idea that, if his breaking ball doesn't develop, he can move back to the pen.

An Osich pick could disappoint those who are wanting the Rangers to use their #33 and #37 picks on higher-ceiling talent that is dropping because of bonus demands, leading to the "signability" complaints that were leveled at last year's draft.  However, given the number of players likely to fall because of bonus issues, it wouldn't surprise me if the Rangers grabbed Osich, or another player who will accept slot money, at #33, and use their later picks to target players wanted $2 million plus bonuses.