Drake Osborn off to torrid start at the plate

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Examining early season baseball statistics in the box scores can yield surprising and often astounding findings.

Perhaps no statistical anomaly in this young season is as remarkable as the start by Mets catching prospect Drake Osborn, a former 19th-round MLB draft pick out of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. In his first 30 plate appearances, Osborn leads the South Atlantic League with a .458 batting average and a 1.289 OPS.

Drake Osborn
Drake Osborn

“I’m just trying to keep things extremely simple and stay with my routine,” Osborn said. “I look to get good pitches to hit, and it comes from my routine, which consists of tee work, some angled flips, and something I call a white line drill. Basically, the ball is coming in on a white line in the batter’s box, and I try to stay through the middle and hit the ball high into centerfield.”

Since turning pro in 2021, the Sandia, Texas, native fit the description of a defensive-minded catcher who had yet to discover consistency at the plate. Osborn was a career .206 hitter in his first three minor league seasons, often mired in prolonged slumps while struggling to master opposing pitchers.

However, signs of growth emerged during the final month of the 2023 season in Class A-Advanced Brooklyn. Osborn hit .280/.375/.440 with six RBIs and displayed more confidence in the batter’s box. The young backstop previously displayed glimpses of untapped offensive potential, hitting 11 home runs in 234 at-bats last season. 

The mid-August promotion of top catcher Kevin Parada increased Osborn’s playing time and helped him settle into a rhythm against opposing pitching.

“I think the results I was getting and the fact that I was getting more consistent playing time (following Parada’s promotion) in September really helped as well,” Osborn said. “Early in my career, I had to learn how to play when not being the everyday catcher. Learning how to stay locked in and stay focused between starts, along with maintaining confidence, was something I had to adjust to as a hitter. “

Subtle offseason refinements, including maintaining a fundamental approach, resulted in Osborn hitting the ball with more authority at the plate. It also translated into his torrid pace with Brooklyn at the onset of the 2024 season. A higher line drive rate, combined with a greater proclivity to use the opposite field, are additional signs of offensive growth stemming from specific drills in the cage. 

“I worked on many things this offseason to get myself in a position to have better results in the batter’s box,” Osborn said. “I really tried to build a foundation for myself of the things that I would like to do at the plate heading into the season, and now I’m trying to focus on sticking to that routine and be able to maintain that consistency.”

Osborn’s commitment to becoming a multi-faceted catcher began with his off-season work at Dynamic Sports Training in San Antonio, an organization that helps athletes at the amateur and professional levels further their skills on the diamond and helps foster relationships within the sport. 

One invaluable connection Osborn made at DST San Antonio was with Yankees catcher Jose Trevino, who served as a friend and mentor. In 2022, Osborn was also a guest at Trevino’s catching camp, where he worked with youngsters learning how to play their position.

Trevino’s guidance and support are helpful for Osborn, who witnessed Trevino’s development from a defense-first catcher in the Rangers organization to an All-Star in the Bronx. 

“I credit a lot of my success to DST,” Osborn said. “They are a phenomenal training places that has all the resources, like the weight room and on the hitting side. I cannot thank those people enough.

“Trevino is an outstanding person. We are from the same area in Texas. I am fortunate enough to work out with him on a daily basis in the offseason, and I credit a lot of what I do behind the plate to Jose. He is willing to help with anything that I need and is an extremely intelligent and an extremely helpful person to have in your corner.” 

With his ability to capably work with various young pitchers on the staff and block balls in the dirt, Osborn has the makings of a solid defensive catcher behind the plate. Additionally, he has a powerful throwing arm to deter potential base stealers. Developing trust in a pitching staff and continued growth as a defender remain top priorities for Osborn amid his recent offensive surge.

“It is very important as a catcher that your main priority is your work behind the plate and I put a ton of pride into that part of my game with receiving, blocking, and throwing,” Osborn said. “Getting to know the pitchers on a personal level, as well as on the baseball field is important because this game has a lot to do with relationships,” Osborn explains. “If you can build those relationships with those guys then you have success.”

The physical and demanding nature of the catching position means that offense is usually the last attribute developed by a minor-league player. Organizations will, therefore, continue to take a patient approach, hoping that production at the plate will eventually materialize over time and that even with a regression to the mean, a sample like Osborn’s can eventually produce both sustainable and significant outcomes.

“The Mets organization has been great to me from the first day I got there,” Osborn said. “Working with those guys and building a routine to develop an identity as a hitter has been crucial to the strong start that I had at the plate to begin the season. If I continue to stick to my approach and routine, then good things will continue to happen.”

Gershon Rabinowitz
Gershon Rabinowitz
Gershon Rabinowitz is a reporter based in the New York market who has covered a variety of sporting events including the MLB draft, the 2016 World Baseball Classic, and Big Ten Hockey at Madison Square Garden. In 2013, he co-founded the website Baseball Essential and currently specializes in coverage of professional baseball and hockey.

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