Hats Off to Former Giants Farm Hand Paul Oseguera
Here is one of those stories I love about a ballplayer who has finally made it against all odds. Paul Oseguera is a small left-hander (6’0″, 180 lbs) the San Francisco Giants once drafted in the 16th round of the 2006 MLB Draft out of UCLA.
Oseguera had a couple of good seasons for the Class A+ San Jose Giants, but what appear to be some injury problems in 2008 and some ineffective pitching in 2010 got him knocked out of the MLB minor leagues. Unwilling to give up his baseball dreams, he went to the Independent A Atlantic League.
He wasn’t especially effective in the Atlantic League in his first two seasons (2010 and 2011), but in 2012 at age 28, he put it all together and was the Atlantic League’s best starting pitcher, leading the best of the independent-A leagues in stikeouts and finishing second in ERA.
Apparently, his fine 2012 campaign didn’t get any MLB organization interested in him, and he left the Atlantic League to pitch in the Mexican League in 2013, perhaps with an eye that a good year south of the border would give him a better chance to sign with a team in Asia.
If that was Oseguera’s plan, it worked. He was the best starting pitcher in the Mexican League this year through 19 starts (he ultimately led the league with an even 3.00 ERA and 124 strikeouts despite pitching only 123 innings), when the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (“NPB”) came calling. In late July, the Hawks signed Oseguera to a reported $250,000 salary, which I assume was pro-rated for what remained of the 2013 NPB season.
Oseguera made six late-season starts for the Hawks following a brief warm-up in NPB’s minor league, and he was terrific. He went 3-1 and posted an 2.00 ERA. His other numbers weren’t as good (36 IP, 29 hits, one HR and 15 BBs allowed and 23 Ks), but in any event he certainly did enough to get a even better contract to return to Japan in 2014. Further, if he’s as much of a ground ball pitcher as his 2013 numbers in Mexico and Japan suggest, he should be reasonably successful pitching in NPB’s small ballparks.
I assume that Oseguera never made more than $20,000 a season pitching in the Atlantic League or more than $25,000 for his partial year in Mexico, so succeeding in Japan, even if only for six starts, is more or less like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Based on his pitching the last two seasons, he certainly deserves the success and financial rewards he’s finally earning.