We shared a few minor league players in major league camp on Wednesday that are worth keeping an eye on this spring. Here are a few more:
RHPs Alexi Ogando & Omar Beltre -- This pair is my favorite prospect story in this spring training, at least in the major league camp (Jurickson Profar might be my favorite overall, but more about him later), as they offer such intriguing, unknown possibilities. You know the story. Some suggest that their ages, Ogando is 26 and Beltre is 28, will work against them as they try to finish their development and become major league pitchers, but the Rangers clearly think a lot of their talent. While they are normally mentioned together for obvious reasons, and while the key weapon for each is a hard fastball, they are quite different on the mound.
Ogando is purely a reliever and has more velocity, with his top end touching triple digits. He has a slider with promise, but those are his only two pitches. He is tall, skinny and athletic enough to be an infield prospect before moving over to the Texas organization. Beltre has filled out his 6-3 frame since his early days as a teenage phenom who only recently was surpassed as the highest signing bonus received from the Rangers for an international player. His velocity falls more in the low-mid 90s but can sit near the higher end when he pitches in relief.
He has more of a starters’ repertoire, with three potential pitches, but the Rangers have not made clear how they will deploy him. Given his age, relief has to be a temptation, at least initially. However, while onlookers will be in a rush to get these two to the majors or to write them off, remember that since they still have options remaining they have plenty of time to polish off their games, if necessary.
They do have to prove worthy of 40-man roster spots this spring, as they are still officially on the restricted list (and therefore do not count against the roster limit until the start of the regular season), so their spring will be fascinating, as will their first assignments. The guess here is that both will appear on Frisco’s roster, with Beltre’s role TBD this spring. If things work out, though, it could be a wild summer for either or both, as they could offer a third and fourth positively electric supplemental relief arm in addition to Scheppers and Pedro Strop.
LHP (left-handed specialist) Ben Snyder -- The Rangers face a spring decision on Snyder, as he was a top Rule 5 pick and therefore has to remain on the 25-man roster of DL all season or be returned to the Giants. He seems to face an uphill battle in this regard, since the most likely opening day roster has seven established relievers (Francisco, Wilson, Feliz, Oliver, Nippert, O’Day, Ray), but the Rangers knew that when they had him included in the Kevin Millwood deal, so they presumably see enough potential to try to find a way to keep him around.
He would be the top beneficiary of C.J. Wilson winning a rotation spot, since the need for a second lefty in the pen would put him in a strong position. I list him as a lefty specialist because that is the role he would serve this season if he is kept, whether he is the second or third lefty. For his career, he has dominated lefties to the tune of a career 0.88 WHIP. If he stays with the organization past 2010, he does have the potential for a starter’s repertoire, but a year of stunted growth in that regard won’t help. He typically sits in the upper 80s, has a promising changeup, and relies on location.