Osoria's Talents Didn't Escape the Dodgers

In many ways, Franquelis Osoria was the most obscure player promoted to the Dodger 40-man roster this past off-season. Certainly he was not among the more storied minor leaguers. However, he's spent this season proving that the L.A. brass knew well what they were doing in protecting him from the Rule 5 draft. In particular, he's been a godsend to the beleaguered Las Vegas pitching corps.

Osoria is a 23-year-old Dominican righthander who was born with the oddity of having six fingers on each hand. Before you dwell on what an advantage that may give him in gripping the ball, you should know that the extra digit on his pitching hand has long since been surgically removed.

What he does do, though is throw from a three-quarters motion with a natural sink on most every pitch he offers. That results in a lot of ground balls. In the dry desert air of Vegas where every fly ball seems to be a trip to Adventureland, this, indeed, is like help from beyond. His current ERA for the 51's is 2.30 and when you consider that the team average is 5.96, you can see how more equipped he is at getting outs.

For the first two years of his career, which were spent in the Dominican Summer League, he was a starter. He was brought to the bullpen in 2002 at South Georgia and has resided there since for the most part as a set-up man. At Vegas, though, he's being used more and more as a closer, something he's becoming adept at with a 5-2 record plus seven saves.

In addition to a fast ball that reaches 92, he also throws a slider that is another ground ball inducement. He did get a major league shot earlier this season and performed satisfactorily before being pushed back when other more experienced hands came off the disabled list.

He throws strikes, as witness his 73-18 strikeout- walk ratio last season for Jacksonville where he spent almost the entire season. He also has the ability to bounce back quickly so can be called upon often -- as he has been this year at Vegas. In 2004, he worked in 55 games, four of those in AAA.

No, he doesn't buzz the ball by batters with upper 90's heat. But, on the other hand, they don't drive his pitches out of the yard or off the fences frequently, either. Opposing batters can be frustrated by the angle at which the ball arrives and particularly what happens after they connect. It's liable to be a two-hopper to the shortstop and when a runner's on first,. that's much more valuable than a flashy "K".

Which is why Osoria is still a member of the 40-man roster, albeit on option now. His arrival on the mound has a calming effect on everybody. The lights on the scoreboard "outs" column reflect his ability.