Fernery Ozuna Will Get Extended Look
A look at the list of non-roster invitees to big league spring training included the usual suspects, such as top prospect Josh Jung and the club's recent first-round picks.
And then there's righthanded reliever Fernery Ozuna, signed three years ago as a minor league free agent after the Diamondbacks released him. He's a 5-foot-8, 170-pound former middle infielder and has had Tommy John surgery twice.
The 25-year-old last pitched in 2018 in the Dominican Summer League. That's his only mound experience as a professional.
But he throws 100 mph and actually knows where it's going. With a workable slider that continues to show improvement, Ozuna, as unlikely as it might seem, has grabbed the attention of the rebuilding Rangers.
"It's a major plus-plus arm," Rangers farm director Paul Kruger said. "He can throw strikes at will. It's really just the development of his secondary pitches. If that comes, he's got the chance to be a pretty special back-end (of the bullpen) piece."
The room to experiment during a rebuild afforded the Rangers the chance to take a longer look at Ozuna, who pitched at instructional league.
That was his first game action since logging 12 innings in the DSL, where he struck out 10 and posted a 2.25 ERA before a second Tommy John surgery in 2019.
The Rangers think they know what they have in Ozuna, but wanted to see it up close against better competition at spring training.
If Ozuna develops his slider and changeup and an understanding of how to pitch, the Rangers' bullpen could gain a power arm.
— Righthander Alex Speas, another inexperienced righthanded reliever, will be joining Ozuna in camp. Speas also throws 100 mph and has had Tommy John surgery, albeit only once.
Speas was part of the Rangers' initial 60-man player pool last season and spent all summer at the alternate training site. But he struggles to find the strike zone with his plus stuff, which led to him not being protected (and not being selected) in the Rule 5 draft.