Nefi Ogando and Power Arm Potential

The Phillies 2014 trade deadline must be entirely different than their 2013 deadline for the sake of the rebuild. General Manager Ruben Amaro and company made minor moves last season and refused to shakeup the core. One player they did move was veteran infielder John McDonald, who was dealt for minor league pitcher Nefi Ogando formerly of the Red Sox.

Ogando, who recently turned 25, was signed by the Boston Red Sox as a non-drafted free agent in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic. He’s spending this season in Double A with the Reading Fightin Phils, the highest level in his minor league career.

 “Ogando is a 6-2, 180 pound right-hander born June 3, 1989. He has a stereotypical middle relief arsenal with a 90-94 MPH fastball and a workable slider, keeping the ball down and generating grounders. His command is erratic and his strikeout rates have not been particularly impressive in A-ball.” –Minor League Ball

Although he has struggled and has limited odds of ever making a major league roster, he is the type of prospect fans should want the Phillies to acquire at the trade deadline when moving players with limited value. Some potential pieces that could be moved to earn a return like Ogando include Antonio Bastardo and John Mayberry, who now likely won’t be moved because he landed on the 15 day disabled list before Tuesday night’s game against San Francisco.

His numbers are scary on the periphery this season in Double A, as he entered Tuesday with a 6.92 ERA in 40 1/3 innings pitched, along with a 1.736 WHIP, 4.7 BB/9, and 10.9 H/9. There are a few positives in his game which are the reasons Philadelphia decided to acquire him last summer and should trade for lottery tickets. He strikes out over a batter per inning with 44 strikeouts on the season, a rate of 9.8 strikeouts per inning. In comparison, Ken Giles recorded 29 punch outs in 15 Double A innings with Reading earlier this year.

There has been improvement over his past few appearances for Ogando, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past six games (7.1 IP). He’s walked three batters over arguably his best stretch of the 2014 season, along with ten strikeouts and zero homeruns given up, a common problem with his flat fastball when he misses up in the zone.

One issue Ogando has is that he elevates his fastball to hitters. He is able to get away with it when he throws at belt level to the opposition at his current level, often with batters swinging through the pitch or popping out to the infield. He needs to continue to improve his slider to reach the Triple A level over the course of the next year.

Recently on July 17th against New Britain, Ogando had one of his better games of the year. He tossed two innings and set down all six hitters he faced, including three strikeouts. His fastball stayed down in the zone for the most part and he showed the ability to spot the fastball on the inner half of the plate. He even used his slider for a strikeout against a right handed batter. His slider doesn’t have much lateral movement, but has enough dive to be a strong complimentary pitch against minor league hitters.

One issue with Ogando’s mechanics is that he is a max effort pticher. He can register elite velocity on the radar gun, but it costs him. He’s going to be able to throw two innings max out of the bullpen at any level. His release point is not consistent either which causes him to miss up and sometimes sit in the middle of the plate leading to his long ball troubles from the mound. He needs to use his slider more because it will be the only way he moves up in the system. There’s potential in his power arm, but it will take a whole lot to get to the next level. His upside is a late inning relief pitcher who can throw only an inning at a time, limiting his versatility throughout the organization.

Photo by Doug Kerr

Author: Matthew Speck

Matthew is based in Central Pennsylvania and hopes to capture Phillies prospects information effectively for the fans. He covers high school sports for the Lebanon Daily News along with the Washington Capitals organization for The Hockey Writers.