|Nefi Ogando, image- Tug Haines
The Dominican Republic native was signed by Boston as an amateur free agent in 2010, debuting as a pro that same year with the organization's Dominican Summer League club. In 11 DSL games (four starts), Ogando tallied a 3-1 record with a 2.91 ERA and a .248 BAA.
The following season, the six-foot-two 185-pounder posted a 1-5 record along with a 2.83 ERA in 15 games (two starts) for short-season Class A Lowell. In 2012, Ogando pitched exclusively as a reliever and notched a 4-4 record with two saves and a 3.70 ERA in 38 outings.
With Class A Advanced Salem in 2013, Ogando posted a 2-3 record with three saves, a .238 batting average against and a 4.09 ERA mark in 33 appearances. Last year, in his first campaign with the Phillies, the youngster had a 5-1 record with a 6.27 ERA, seven saves and a 9.16 K/9 in 48 games for Double-A Reading.
Armed with a top notch fastball that normally registers in the 98-99 MPH range and has been clocked in triple digits, a slider with nice movement that sits in the 89-92 MPH range as well as a change up that features a solid drop in velocity from the fastball, but is still comparable to other hurlers' best offerings at around 87 MPH.
His ability to crank up the velocity is Ogando's best skill, but his control needs to be wrangled or he'll end up as a Phillippe Aumont clone. Averaging 4.43 BB/9 in his career, Ogando's rate of free passes must improve in order to reach, and remain at, the top level of the sport. With refined accuracy, the Phils could have another big arm for their bullpen to join the likes of last year's emerging young gun, Kenny Giles.
A positive step for Ogando was that he saw his fly ball percent drop a considerable amount last year down to 19.9% from 37.1% the year prior. His 47.3% ground ball ratio for his career is excellent.
This off-season in the highly competitive Arizona Fall League, Ogando put together a 1-0 record with a 3.07 ERA with three saves in 12 relief outings for Scottsdale. There, he kept the walks in check, issuing four bases on balls and walking 15 in 14 2/3 innings. He then also appeared for the Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League, allowing no runs and one walk while striking out three in 5 2/3 regular season innings.
Added to the 40-man roster over the off-season, it is clear that the Phillies feel that Ogando could soon be a contributor to the big club.
Ogando is at the right age and the ideal spot in his career where an opportunity to pitch in the back end of the Triple-A bullpen should be in order. Look for him in an IronPigs uniform this coming season.
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