May 31st, 2013
Rangers’ starter Alexi Ogando will make the start for the RoughRiders in tonight’s game against the Tulsa Drillers. The 29-year-old is currently on the Rangers 15-day disabled list with right biceps tendinitis.
In the past three years, Ogando has played a dominant role on the Rangers’ pitching staff. However, his path to Arlington has been unique and bizarre.
Ogando’s road to the Rangers:
In 2005, Alexi Ogando was selected by the Rangers from Oakland in the minor league phase of the 2005 Rule 5 Draft. He was an outfielder in the Oakland system, but was instantly converted to pitcher with the Rangers.
Caught up in a marriage-visa scam in the Dominican Republic with former Rangers right-hander Omar Beltre, guilty of gullible involvement before Texas acquired him, Ogando was essentially quarantined in the Dominican for five years after joining the organization. Around 30 Dominican players were involved in the scam, promised $5,000 by a Dominican crime syndicate to agree to a sham marriage to women they didn’t know. The women would then gain entry into the US with their newly acquired visas and obtain divorces shortly after arriving.
In his five years stuck in the Dominican, Alexi pitched for the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League clubs in 2006 and 2007. He didn’t pitch in 2008 but was back on a DSL mound in 2009, making 10 appearances in July and August.
In Februrary 2010, the U.S. State Department notified the Rangers that the Dominican right-handers had been provided waivers allowing them to apply for work visas. All immigration restraints to their entry into the United States were also removed. The two prospects reportedly spent their last year in the Dominican speaking publicly to educate citizens about these human trafficking scams.
Then-Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine reportedly played a significant role in the process from the organization’s side. Ogando and Beltre were top-tier prospects, but at age 26 and 28 respectively, pitching dominantly for five years against largely overmatched Dominican Summer League competition, their ability to get outs against major league batters in the US could have been an issue in the MLB. Texas kept both on the restricted list for three years (adding Ogando to the 40-man roster before doing so in his case) rather than moving on, as all other clubs did with the other 30 Dominican players around the league caught up in the scandal.
Ogando’s Career with the Rangers:
Ogando is in his fourth season with the Rangers and second season as a member of the starting rotation. He has appeared in 142 major league games with 39 starts, with a record of 23-11 and a 3.12 ERA.
The Dominican right-hander made nine starts this season for Texas with a 4-2 record and a 3.08 ERA before heading to the disabled list on May 16 with right biceps tendonitis. In 50 innings this season, the converted outfielder has 37 strikeouts and 19 walks.
He was a member of the RoughRiders in 2010, a year he finished in Arlington making 44 appearances out of the bullpen for the Rangers in his rookie season. As a RoughRiders hurler, he made seven outings, including three starts.
In two years of post season play, Ogando has gone 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings pitched. He was particularly effective in the 2011 series against the Tigers, going 2-0 in four games pitching 7.2 innings allowing one run on three hits and striking out ten.
Baseball Term of the Day: rainmaker- a very high pop fly, usually in the infield