Ogando with the Braves in 2016
October 5, 1983 |
San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic
|June 15, 2010, for the Texas Rangers|
(through May 22, 2016)
|Earned run average||3.43|
|Career highlights and awards|
Alexi Ogando (born October 5, 1983) is a Dominican professional baseball pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. He previously played for the Texas Rangers from 2010 to 2014, the Boston Red Sox in 2015 and the Atlanta Braves in 2016. He was an MLB All-Star in 2011.
Ogando was born in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic. He told the Oakland Athletics that his name was Argenis Benitez, and signed with the team for $15,000 as an outfielder in 2002. After playing his rookie season in the Dominican Summer League, Ogando batted .342 with 13 doubles, seven home runs (second in the Arizona League) and 36 runs batted in for the AZL Athletics in 2003. The organization learned Ogando's real name that season. He began the 2004 campaign with the Vancouver Canadians, but after starting the season 0 for 13 and batting .150 in six games, he was demoted back to Arizona. Despite not joining the Arizona League until July 1, he finished second in the league with six home runs and had twenty extra base hits. As a hitter, Ogando was noted for his raw power and bat speed, drawing comparisons to Alex Ríos from his Arizona League Athletics manager Ruben Escalera.
Human trafficking ring
The Texas Rangers acquired Ogando in the rule 5 draft in December 2005 and converted him into a pitcher. He earned an invitation to spring training in 2005; however, when he went to the U.S. embassy to pick up his work visa that January, consulate officials were waiting. They had noticed that an inordinate number of young minor league ballplayers had been married in a short period of time to women who had previously been denied visas, and it raised a red flag. Ogando immediately admitted guilt to his involvement in a human trafficking ring, and was assured that he would likely only receive a one-year exclusion, and that he would be able to reapply the following year. As it turned out, he was banned from entering the United States for five years, limiting him to winter ball, the Dominican Summer League and international tournaments. Further efforts included sending Ogando to workouts in Japan, to see if any Nippon Professional Baseball teams were interested in his services. Japanese interest in Ogando was not high, and he spent three seasons out of the DSL Rangers' bullpen, going 11–3 with a 1.11 earned run average and 114 strikeouts and holding batters to a .209 batting average. The Texas Rangers contacted the United States government, then led by former team owner George W. Bush, and Ogando was eventually pardoned, after speaking out on the dangers of human trafficking.
On February 12, 2010, Ogando and Omar Beltré, who was also involved in the human trafficking ring out of the Dominican Republic, were granted visas, and allowed to attend spring training, arriving in the U.S. on February 16. After spring training, he was assigned to the double A Frisco RoughRiders and soon earned a promotion to triple A after dominating the Texas League with a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings.
Although he made three starts with Frisco, he pitched exclusively in relief with the Oklahoma City RedHawks. He appeared in 11 games with Oklahoma City before earning a trip to the major leagues. He replaced starting pitcher Rich Harden on the 25 man roster when Harden was placed on the fifteen-day disabled list with a left gluteal muscle strain. He made his major league debut on June 15, pitching one inning and earning the win against the Florida Marlins. Playing in an NL park, Ogando also got his first hit as a batter. Ogando became just the third relief pitcher since 1900 to win his first three major league appearances. Ogando finished the season with a 4–1 record and an impressive 1.30 ERA.
Ogando started the 2011 season as the Texas Rangers' fifth starter following an injury to Tommy Hunter in spring training. He made his first start on April 5, pitching six scoreless innings against the Seattle Mariners. He started the season 7–0 with a 2.20 ERA and one of the lowest WHIPs in the major leagues. He lost his first game as a starter in a blowout against the Yankees. On July 10, 2011, Ogando was named to the American League All Star team for the first time in his career. Ogando replaced CC Sabathia, who was replacing James Shields, because each was starting against each other on Sunday before the All-Star break.
Ogando's pitching performance saw a dramatic decline in the second-half of the season as his total innings far surpassed his 2010 totals. He finished 2011 with 13–8 record and a 3.51 ERA.
In the playoffs, Ogando was converted back to a reliever and won in game 1 of the 2010 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. Of Ogando's versatility as a starter and reliever, manager Ron Washington remarked, "what a weapon to have". In game 7 of the 2011 World Series, Ogando relieved Mike Gonzalez, who was injured and left the game with a 3-2 count on the batter, Allen Craig, and recorded the strikeout.
On June 9, 2013, Ogando was added to the disabled list for the second time in the 2013 season. He missed most of the 2014 season with injuries, pitching to a 2-3 record and a 6.84 ERA in 25 innings pitched. He was non-tendered on December 2, 2014, and became a free agent.
Boston Red Sox
Ogando joined the Atlanta Braves on a minor league deal in December 2015. The team purchased his contract on April 2, 2016, and designated him for assignment on June 27, and later released.
On July 8, 2016, Ogando signed a Minor League contract with the Diamondbacks.
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