By Mike Steffanos
Jorge Sosa was signed as 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic by the Colorado Rockies organization in 1995. He spent six unproductive years as an outfielder in the Rockies system before Seattle took him in the minor league draft and moved him to the mound in 2001. He had some immediate success that season, pitching primarily at the Low-A level. Milwaukee took him in the rule 5 draft that winter, but lost him on waivers to Tampa Bay in March 2002.
Sosa spent most of 2002 in the majors with the D-Rays in both starting and relief roles, and did fairly well for a 24-year-old who had only one minor league season as a pitcher. In 2003, once again both starting and relieving, he had his best year with the Devil Rays. The following season he regressed somewhat pitching mainly out of the bullpen. Just before the 2005 season, he was traded to Atlanta for infielder Nick Green. He enjoyed his finest major league season that year, starting 20 games and relieving in 24.
There was some talk that Sosa might be a candidate to close games for the Braves in 2006, but he was in the rotation at the beginning of the season. He struggled, and in mid-June was moved to the bullpen where he was also ineffective. At the trading deadline Sosa was dealt to St. Louis, where he pitched out of the bullpen to no better result. The Cardinals elected not to tender him a contract after the season and he became a free agent. The Mets signed Sosa to a $1.25 million in January.
Here are the career major league numbers for Jorge Sosa:
|Jorge Sosa Major League Stats|
|Year - Team (Age)||G||GS||Innings||Hits/9||K/9||BB/9||HR/9||ERA||AVG||OBP||SLG|
|2002 - Tampa Bay (24)||31||14||99.1||8.0||4.4||4.9||1.5||5.53||.236||.332||.416|
|2003 - Tampa Bay (25)||29||19||128.2||9.6||5.0||4.2||1.0||4.62||.278||.358||.426|
|2004 - Tampa Bay (26)||43||8||99.1||9.1||8.5||4.9||1.5||5.53||.259||.348||.453|
|2005 - Atlanta (27)||44||20||134.0||8.2||5.7||4.3||0.8||2.55||.241||.325||.374|
|2006 - Atlanta (28)||26||13||87.1||10.8||6.0||3.3||2.1||5.46||.298||.355||.537|
|2006 - St. Louis||19||0||30.2||9.7||5.0||2.4||2.9||5.28||.275||.320||.567|
|Major League Totals||192||74||579.1||9.1||5.8||4.2||1.4||4.61||.262||.342||.442|
It's easy to write off Jorge Sosa's major league career as mediocre and inconsistent. For a pitcher acknowledged to have a power arm the strikeout numbers aren't very impressive. He throws a lot of fly balls, and many of those have found their way out of the park. His walk totals before last season have always been high, and a drop in his walk rate last year was matched by a big increase in homeruns, which begs the question as to whether he should have walked a few more of those guys.
For all that, however, when you take a moment to consider that the 29-year-old Sosa only has one minor league and 5 major league seasons under his belt as a pitcher, you can understand why he is still regarded as a pitcher with some potential. Still, at 29 his time is running out to live up to it.
Although Sosa's ability to both start and work out of the bullpen gives him a little versatility, I can't help but wonder if a more defined role wouldn't help him to find some of that consistency that has eluded him so far. He's primarily a fastball and slider pitcher, and seems a more natural fit for the bullpen. A lack of an effective changeup hinders him against left-handers:
|Jorge Sosa L/R Splits|
I've heard the opinion that Sosa has pitched better as a starter in his career, but I don't see his numbers as really overwhelming in that regard:
|Jorge Sosa Starter/Reliever Splits|
While there seems to be a question whether Sosa will start or relieve with the Mets, I'm thinking the bullpen is more logical. With Dave Williams out for an indefinite period, Sosa might be a good fit to step into the long reliever role. At the price tag he is a reasonable gamble despite lackluster career numbers. As previously mentioned, he only had one minor league season as a pitcher, and could benefit from some coaching. Indeed, he had his best year under Leo Mazzone in Atlanta.
I confess that I was skeptical when I heard that the Mets picked up Jorge Sosa, but after doing the research for this article it makes a little more sense to me. I'm still not expecting a lot out of Sosa and indeed, I wouldn't bet the farm on him making the club. On the other hand, I wouldn't be totally shocked if he turned out to be a pleasant surprise. In the numbers game that Omar Minaya is playing with both the bullpen and rotation, this was a reasonable low-risk signing of a pitcher with some potential for success.
2007 Bullpen Previews:
Chan Ho Park
Jorge Sosa (This Article)
Four Other Names for You
2007 Pitching Previews: Summing It All Up