MILWAUKEE -- Alexi Ogando, after being converted from an outfielder to a pitcher and then being stuck in the Dominican Republic for five years, finally achieved his dream Saturday. He was called up to the Major Leagues. "It's definitely a very special, amazing, surprising day for me," Ogando said.
Ogando was called up after posting a 2.05 ERA in 18 games at Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Oklahoma City. Opponents are hitting .130 off him with 11 walks and 42 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. He pitched two scoreless innings in his last appearance Thursday against Albuquerque. "He's a guy we want to take a look at," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's throwing the ball well. Despite his limited experience, he's a strike-thrower who hides the ball well. This is an opportunity to look at him." Ogando originally signed with Oakland as an outfielder but was converted to a pitcher in 2004. The Rangers, because of the scouting work of A.J. Preller and Mike Daly, took him from the Athletics in the Minor League phase of the December 2005 Rule 5 Draft. But that was also about the time he got caught up in a visa fraud scandal in the Dominican Republic. Part of his punishment was not being able to enter the United States for five years. Omar Beltre was in the same predicament. Ogando was limited to pitching in the Dominican Summer League until the Rangers, under the work of assistant general manager Thad Levine and scout Danilo Troncoso, were able to get the situation resolved so Ogando and Beltre could come to the United States. Now Ogando is finally in the big leagues. "There were always times when I had some doubts, felt really down and lost hope," Ogando said. "But I kept praying to God that he would help me with my career, and now look where I am."