Scouting Rangers Prospect Alexi Ogando

Right-hander Alexi Ogando's power three-pitch repertoire could land him a key role in the Texas Rangers' big league bullpen before the 2010 season is over. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 26-year-old prospect with a feature story and an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Alexi Ogando
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: October 5, 1983
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Acquired: 2005 Rule 5 Draft, Minor League Phase

Between 2005 and 2009, right-hander Alexi Ogando wasn't allowed to play in the United States.

By now, most know the story. Ogando and a handful of other players were caught up a marriage fraud scandal that resulted in them being barred from the U.S. Initially, the players believed it would just be a one-year ban, but the end result was clearly much longer.

Just when it had begun to seem hopeless for Ogando and fellow Rangers prospect Omar Beltre, the pitchers were officially allowed back in the States this past February.

And with the re-introduction of Ogando and Beltre, the Rangers had acquired two more promising bullpen arms.

Initially a strong-armed, power-hitting outfield prospect with the Oakland A's organization, Ogando made his state-side debut with the AZL Athletics in 2003, batting .342 with 13 doubles and seven homers in just 190 at-bats.

But the prospect fizzled after an assignment to short-season Vancouver in 2004, and he was sent back to the rookie-level Arizona League.

Little did Ogando know at the time, that would be the last time he'd play in the U.S. as a position player.

While stuck in the Dominican Republic, the Rangers took a flyer on Ogando in 2005, selecting him in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft with designs on converting him to the mound.

Although he couldn't play in the U.S., Ogando created buzz because of his reported 100 mph fastball.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder spent four seasons at the club's Latin American complex in San Pedro de Macoris, dominating for parts of three summers in the Dominican Summer League. In 81 career DSL innings, Ogando struck out 114 while walking just 12––impressive numbers regardless of his stuff.

This past offseason, the hurler got his first taste of high-level competition, when he logged 12 relief innings for the Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League. He posted a 2.25 earned-run average, yielding nine hits, walking four and striking out nine.

The results were impressive because, while it wasn't a large sample size, they proved he could succeed against solid competition. It wasn't like the Dominican Summer League, where he was able to toy with much younger hitters.

Already a member of the Rangers' 40-man roster, Ogando was able to participate in Major League camp when he arrived back in Arizona for the first time in over five years.

While he had up and down results in ‘A' games––allowing two earned runs in 4.1 innings––Ogando impressed the Rangers with both his stuff and feel for pitching, particularly given his relative lack of experience against elite talent.

The club assigned the 26-year-old reliever straight to Double-A Frisco out of camp, and he has been impressive in his first two outings. Ogando has surrendered just one run on one hit in 5.2 frames, walking one and striking out six.

Also See: Rangers Minor League Notes – AAA/AA at RBiA (April 8, 2010)
Rangers Minor League Notes (March 10, 2010)
Rangers Minor League Notes (March 4, 2010)
Top Prospects, Top Tools (February 11, 2010)
Beltre, Ogando allowed back in States (February 1, 2010)

Prospect Video: Alexi Ogando strikes out a hitter
Smoak takes Ogando deep
Ogando breaks Moreland's bat

Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Splitter.

Fastball: The 26-year-old has pure overpowering velocity. While he has reached triple-digits on the radar gun in the past, he generally sits in the 93-96 mph range and tops out at 98-99 mph when reaching back for extra. For the most part, Ogando's fastball command is pretty strong, but he needs to refine it.

Since returning to the U.S. this spring, he has been mostly dominant, but Ogando has also been prone to the occasional outing where his overall command––not just fastball, but all three pitches––deteriorates. The righty can not only blow his fastball by hitters, but he has also shown the ability to tie up both left- and right-handed hitters with inside heaters.

Other Pitches: Coming into camp this spring, everybody knew Ogando had the overpowering fastball. But what surprised and impressed most onlookers was his secondary stuff. Ogando showed a decent feel for his two offspeed pitches––the slider and splitter––and they both showed the potential to be above-average, swing-and-miss offerings.

Ogando throws his slider around 83 mph, and more often than not, it is a legitimate power pitch with good tilt. However, at times he can get around the pitch, causing it to flatten out and act more like a cutter. His splitter ranges anywhere from the mid-to-upper-80s. While it is also inconsistent, he can use it effectively to left-handed hitters. The bottom line is that Ogando's offspeed stuff has plenty of potential, but he simply needs to refine it.

Projection: Since he was converted to the mound, the Dominican Republic native has pretty much just pitched out of the bullpen, and that's where his future lies. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Ogando's power three-pitch repertoire should fit in well at the back-end of a big league bullpen. At 26-years-old, his stuff probably won't improve much, but after refining his command, he projects to have three very usable pitches to combat Major League hitters.

2010 Outlook: Ogando is currently pitching in the starting rotation with Double-A Frisco, but he's pitching in that role so he can spend more time developing his secondary stuff. Out of the bullpen, Ogando would be more inclined to rely on his fastball. While pitching two or three innings as a starter, he'll have to mix in more offspeed pitches.

Ogando isn't far from the Major Leagues, though. The secondary stuff is currently the key for him, and while both the slider and splitter show promise, he needs to refine them. He has dominant raw stuff and his surprisingly strong feel for pitching should land him in the big league bullpen before the season is over. He's already on the 40-man roster, making it that much easier to call him up when the Rangers feel it's time.

ETA: 2010.

2003 AZL Athletics (RK) .342 190 13 7 36 33 5 7 42 .379 .532
2004 AZL Athletics (RK) .267 180 13 6 24 26 3 14 57 .340 .450
Vancouver (SSA) .150 20 0 1 6 3 1 4 9 .320 .300
2006 DSL Rangers (RK) .250 16 1 0 2 3 1 3 4 .400 .313

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2006 DSL Rangers (DSL) 5-0 34.2 24 4 48 0.52
2007 DSL Rangers (DSL) 6-1 28.0 25 7 35 0.96
2008 DNP --- --- --- --- --- ---
2009 DSL Rangers (DSL) 0-2 18.1 16 1 31 2.45
2010 Frisco (AA) 0-0 5.2 1 1 6 1.59

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