Rangers Pitchers Looking For Second Chance

DALLAS — Once nothing more than a Quixotic quest, it appears the five years the Rangers spent trying to clear the names of pitching prospects Omar Beltre and Alexi Ogando is about to pay off with U.S. entry papers.

Rangers officials have been told that the pair, who have been banned from the U.S. since 2005 for their part in facilitating a Dominican Republic-based human trafficking ring with sham weddings, will be given waivers to enter the U.S. for the 2010 season.

If both receive all the necessary paperwork from the State Department and MLB, they will be reinstated on the 40-man roster when they get to Surprise.
Both players have lost significant development time and neither is likely to challenge for a spot on the opening day roster.

When the Rangers signed Beltre in 2000 for a $600,000 bonus, it was the most they had ever given to an international player. He reached high Class A in 2004 before being banned. Beltre, who could pitch either in the rotation or the bullpen, still throws his fastball in the 92-96 mph range.

Though Beltre, now 28, was more advanced than Ogando when the players were banned, Ogando may now have the brighter future. Mostly that is because he is two years younger. Though he is now 26, he has never faced a hitter in the U.S. Ogando was an outfielder in the Oakland organization through 2004. The Rangers selected him in the Rule 5 draft in 2004 and moved him to pitcher.

His fastball has occasionally been clocked at 100 mph, but he regularly ranges between 95-98 mph. Ogando does not have the changeup that Beltre features and, because of that, is considered more of a relief prospect. He was 1-0, 2.25 in 12 innings in the Dominican League.


• The Rangers also announced that the club has hired Joe Furukawa as Coordinator, Pacific Rim Operations. He will work directly with A.J. Preller, Jim Colborn, and Josh Boyd to oversee the daily scouting operations in the Far East. Furukawa, 39, had a brief playing career as an infielder in the Japanese majors.

• First baseman Justin Smoak was announced as the winner of the 2009 Dick Case Award. Smoak set a U.S. World Cup record with nine homers in September and was named the World Cup's MVP.