On a personal level, right-hander Zach Osborne couldn't have ended his collegiate career on a better note.
Making his last appearance before the 2010 MLB Draft in the NCAA Austin Regional, Osborne went up against a heavy-hitting Rice Owls lineup.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound hurler was more than up to the task. With Rangers area scout Randy Taylor in attendance, Osborne tossed a complete-game shutout, giving up five hits [all singles] while walking two and striking out four.
In the postgame press conference, Osborne called the 135-pitch performance "definitely the biggest game of my life," but the excellent effort certainly wasn't out of the ordinary for the senior.
As a junior transfer from New Mexico Junior College in 2009, Osborne was the most reliable starter on the Louisiana-Lafayette staff, going 5-3 with a 3.44 earned-run average in 83.2 innings.
He only improved in his senior campaign.
This past year, the Houston native led the Ragin Cajuns in practically all pitching categories. He made 16 starts––finishing five of them––posting a 9-4 record with a 2.37 ERA. In 121.2 innings, he yielded 100 hits, walked 21, and struck out 112.
The 22-year-old Osborne isn't overpowering, but he attacks the bottom half of the strike zone with an upper-80s, low-90s sinker from a low three-quarters arm angle. He has already signed with the Rangers and reported to short-season Spokane, where he will likely pitch out of the starting rotation.
Jason Cole: What are your thoughts on getting selected in the ninth round by the Rangers?
Zach Osborne: Well, I was excited to go to a Texas team. I'm from Houston and played two years at New Mexico Junior College and then two years at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. I'm just happy to go to a Texas team, especially in the ninth round as a senior. I was really honored to be drafted that high as a senior.
Cole: Was this your first time to be drafted?
Osborne: No, I got drafted my sophomore year by the Braves in the 35th round.
Cole: Your area scout in high school and in Lafayette was Randy Taylor. Can you talk about your relationship with him? How much did you guys talk over the years?
Osborne: I didn't really start talking to Randy until this year. It was the first time we'd started talking. But he's from this area and came to watch me a few times this year. He said he liked what he saw. I have a lot of respect for the guy––he's been around for a long time and I was happy when he took me in the draft.
Cole: Was he in Austin to watch you pitch against Rice in the NCAA Regional?
Osborne: Yeah, he came to Austin to watch the UL versus Rice game. He stayed the whole game, he said.
Cole: Tell me about the experience you had pitching in that Austin Regional. I know you had a heck of a performance, throwing a complete-game shutout against Rice.
Osborne: It was a great place to play and a good atmosphere at UT. Playing against a powerhouse like Rice and getting the start to start the regional off––it was a fun game. It was hot, in the middle of the day. I think it was a 1:00 start. But it was a great experience to play against a team like that to get you ready and rolling into pro ball.
Cole: You got to face Anthony Rendon in that game, and he's a guy that could be the number one overall pick next year. He had three home runs in one game the day after you faced him, but you limited him to 1-for-3. How do you attack a guy that dangerous with a metal bat in his hands?
Osborne: You just can't fall behind in the count with hitters like that. Once you get ahead, you've got to get pitches off the plate and bury pitches in the dirt––just get them swinging. You want to keep his legs out of his swing and just try to keep him off-balance.
I pretty much tried to attack him early and let him get himself out later on. If you fall behind, then you have to throw strikes and when you do throw the strike, he's going to be sitting on it and ready to hit it. Basically I just get ahead and make him get himself out.
Cole: Looking back on your senior season in Lafayette, what were your overall thoughts?
Osborne: I had a great experience at UL, especially being a senior and turning the program around. We won our conference––we were co-champs with Florida Atlantic. I just had a great senior season, being our number one the whole year. I was able to build a close relationship with the guys on the team and had a fun year. It was a good way to go out.
Cole: Going back through your four-year collegiate career, how did you feel you improved on the mound?
Osborne: You just learn more and more each year. The more you pitch, the more hitters you face, the tougher hitters you face––you just learn more as a pitcher. You learn how you have to get guys out. You just learn more about the game overall, and it's fun learning more and getting to move on.
Cole: You were the workhorse of that staff this year, logging over 100 innings with five complete games. Do you feel your arm is still ready for a little bit more once you get to Spokane?
Osborne: Yeah, my arm still feels good. I talked to Randy and he doesn't think that I'll be going that deep into ballgames in this short season. If I'm starting, I'll probably be on a pitch count and go six innings or something. I definitely won't be throwing any complete games or anything like that.
Cole: To give fans an idea of what you're like as a pitcher, can you just talk about what kind of guy you are on the mound and what you've got in your repertoire?
Osborne: I'm like a low three-quarter arm angle. I have a lot of two-seam run on my fastball at like 88-92 mph. I'm mostly fastball-slider. I can really use my fastball to both sides of the plate and with my run, I can get a lot of ground balls and pitch to contact. I just try to pretty much make the hitters get themselves out.
Q&A with Rangers 9th Round Pick Zach Osborne
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