Ochoa gives Angels outfield depth

By Josh Boyd
July 31, 2002

The Athletics had been the only American League West contender active on the trade market until Wednesday, when the Angels made a minor move to improve their outfield depth. Anaheim picked up Alex Ochoa and Triple-A catcher Sal Fasano for Jorge Fabregas and two players to be named later.

Ochoa, 31, joins his seventh organization in eight years. Originally drafted in the third round out of a Miami high school by the Orioles in 1991, he was rated the No. 2 prospect in that system in 1994-95. He made his major league debut in 1995 with the Mets after being included in a deal for Bobby Bonilla that summer. After joining the Brewers in a three-team trade with the Mets and Rockies in January, Ochoa batted .256-6-21 in 85 games in 2002. He has some tools, most notably an arm regarded as one of the strongest in the game, but never has produced consistenly enough to hold down a full-time job. In 770 major league games, he has hit .279-44-251 with 53 steals. Ochoa is making $2.75 million this year and will be a free agent at season’s end.

Fasano, 30, started the season in Triple-A Durham with the Devil Rays but was released and signed in June with the Brewers, who sent him to Triple-A Indianapolis. Between the two stops, he batted .232-7-20 in 65 games. Known more for his defensive prowess than his bat, Fasano has hit .216-30-95 in 252 big league games over six seasons.

Like Fasano, the 32-year-old Fabergas is a defensive-minded receiver. An Angels first-round pick out of the University of Miami in 1991, he started for them in 1996 and rejoined them this offseason as a free agent. He hit .193-0-8 in 35 games for Anaheim this year, and threw out five of 23 basestealers (21 percent) who tested him. He’s a career .244-20-197 hitter in 616 major league contests.

August 14 update: The first of the two players to be named was middle infielder Johnny Raburn, who was transferred from Anaheim’s high Class A California League affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga to Milwaukee’s in High Desert. Raburn, 23, was a 16th-round pick out of the University of South Florida in 2000. He doesn’t have overwhelming physical tools but resembles Angels shortstop David Eckstein, an overachiever who has willed himself into a big league starter. Raburn isn’t very strong at 6-foot-1 and 165 pounds, but he excels at getting on base and is a stolen-base threat once he reaches. In 115 games at Rancho, he hit .292-1-36 with 77 walks, a .397 on-base percentage and 35 steals in 54 attempts. His quickness is his best tool defensively, though his arm is just average and he’s erratic. Spending most of his time at shortstop and second base but also seeing action at third base and in the outfield, Raburn has made 32 errors in 2002. His brother Ryan is a promising third baseman who signed with the Tigers as a 2001 fifth-round pick.

September 20 update: The deal was completed when the Brewers received high Class A righthander Pedro Liriano. Liriano, 21, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1998 and went 23-5 in his first three years as a pro, all in Rookie ball. He made a solid jump to the California League in 2002, going 10-14, 3.60 in 28 starts. Opponents batted .212 against him and he put up a 176-74 strikeout-walk ratio in 167 innings. Liriano’s statistics have been more impressive than his stuff, however. His fastball tops out at 90 mph and more advanced hitters won’t be as likely to chase his slider.