Presently, the Rangers are stretching out Alexi Ogando in an effort to prepare him for a potential move to the rotation. However, with so much competition in their spring camp for a couple rotation slots, I would expect those jobs to be claimed by hurlers with more starting experience, such as Matt Harrison or Derek Holland.
During Ogando's four-year minor league career, out of his 59 appearances, only three were starts, leading me to believe that a leap to the rotation now might not be in the cards.
Once an outfielder signed initially by the A's, the converted pitcher made significant strides early with his incredible athleticism and powerful arm. His development was derailed significantly by his admission of involvement in a human trafficking ring, which would ultimately cost him dearly, as he was prevented from entering the United States for five years.
Ogando was limited to pitching in the Dominican Summer League as part of the Rangers minor-league system to hone his skills and bide his time until his punishment had been served.
Over those four seasons, he was incredibly dominant, making the Rangers salivate over the incredible talent they had in Ogando. In 59 appearances, he hurled 111.2 innings, striking out 156 with an ERA of 1.37 and a minuscule WHIP of 0.91.
When he finally made the jump to the major leagues in 2010, he made an immediate impact in the Rangers bullpen. Using primarily his blazing fastball, which resides in the 95-plus range, and his filthy slider, Ogando dominated major league hitters just as he had Dominican Summer League opponents.
In 44 games with the big league squad, all relief appearances, Ogando pitched 41.2 innings, striking out 39, while posting an ERA of 1.30 and a WHIP of 1.13.
If Neftali Feliz makes a move to the starting rotation, Ogando would appear to be the perfect candidate to replace him, as he boasts similar stuff to the Rangers' young relief phenom. So far, though, it doesn't appear that Feliz will be vacating his post as of yet, so the two hurlers may combine to give Texas a lethal late-inning combo to finish of games for them in 2011.
Following the trials and tribulations that Ogando has endured, he finally appears ready to move beyond his turbulent early career in the game and progress as he was expected to as a young prospect.
I would not be surprised at all, if Ogando is the name on baseball fans' lips when discussing the breakout reliever in the league towards the end of the 2011 season. He certainly has the arm and demeanor to accomplish great things in the Texas bullpen.