The following series will count down the 25 highest ceilings (based on AOFP grades) in the Rangers' minor league system. I have scouted every player on the list in person and compiled the grades using those observations, conversations with respected voices in the Rangers' community like Lone Star Dugout's Jason Cole, and conversations with numerous scouts. Being a subjective exercise, opinions will vary on the individual tool grades, and ultimately, on the final tool projections.
Before we discuss the scouting scale and my methods of evaluation, it's important to note that the AOFP-based rankings below differ from the prospect rankings you may be more accustomed to seeing. The grades here are based on raw tools, and aren't intended to capture each player's most realistic ceiling. Age, league, and other contextual factors are generally excluded, although younger players have more room for development and therefore can receive the benefit of such an abstract view.
It should also be noted that this series was designed to highlight players currently playing in the Rangers' minor league system. For example: a player like Neftali Feliz, whose composite grades would rank him in the top tier of prospects in the system, will be excluded from this list because he is currently on the 25-man roster and not likely to spend any time on the farm.
The Scouting Scale/Methods:
For each tool (hitter) or individual offering (pitcher), a scout assigns the player a grade on a numerical scale that runs from 20 to 80 in five-point increments. 50 is major-league average, and 80 represents the top available score. The sides of the tool bell curve are extremely steep, and there's not much space beneath the curve's tails. In other words, there are very, very few players with 80-caliber tools, and lots of prospects whose tools score a 50. Because of this, scouts may also assign qualitative descriptors (e.g., "fringe-average," "solid-average") to modify scores of 50 that don't quite warrant a bump down to 45 or up to 55.
The scout averages the tool grades to produce an "Overall Future Potential" (OFP) grade. (As a result, OFP also has a 20-to-80 range, but isn't limited to scores ending in "5" or "0.") After OFP is calculated, a scout can adjust it based on his observation, experience, and intuition. This results in an AOFP: the "A" stands for "adjusted." An AOFP above 60 is generally indicative of an elite prospect: a guy with the potential to star in a championship-caliber lineup, rotation, or bullpen.
An AOFP of 55-59 typically implies a prospect that will be a first-division starter, including a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter, front-line reliever, or second-tier closer. AOFPs in the 50-54 range suggest a solid-average major leaguer, including back-of-the-rotation starters and some late-inning arms who fall just below having "front-line" status. Players with AOFPs lower than 50 are usually fringe-average players like utility infielders, fourth/fifth outfielders, and middle relievers. Not a single player on this list will have an AOFP below 54.
Name: Alexi Ogando
Birthplace: San Pedro, Dominican Republic
HT/WT: 6' 5", 185 lb.
Arm Action: Very fast
Delivery/Mechanical characteristics: Arm heavy delivery with short stride; low three-quarters delivery
Physical description: Tall and lanky with extremely long limbs and a narrow waist; wiry strength
Abilities: Electric FB, with combination of raw velocity, movement, and solid commandability. Normally sits in the 93-96 mph range, with the ability to comfortably sit in the mid-90s and touch 99 mph in one-inning bursts. With well-above average late life on the pitch, generated by his ultra-fast arm speed and whip-like delivery from a low arm slot, Ogando is able to overpower hitters with velocity and tailing arm-side run. In addition to his low arm slot, Ogando has a noisy delivery that hides the ball well, offering additional deception to his FB.
His slider, a true plus pitch in the making, is thrown in the 81-84 mph range with a hard, two-plane break. The pitch is a nightmare on RH, with the appearance of a FB and late movement that pushes the pitch sharply down and away. His change-up is an unusual pitch, with heavy tumbling movement like a splitter. Thrown anywhere in the 83-88 mph range, the CU can be a solid pitch and effective third offering when he can stay on top of it and the arm speed can remain consistent. Aggressive on the mound, with a similar approach regardless of the situation. Likes to attack hitters early with his FB, and his use his slider to embarrass RH.
Weaknesses: Limited track record against high-end talent; numerous setbacks in developmental process, including injury and suppressed workload. Generates easy FB velocity, but doesn’t incorporate much lower half in delivery (short stride), putting more pressure on the arm. Tends to open up early and whip arm across his body, forcing some command inconsistencies and a followthrough to the 1B side. Noticeable tempo difference with off-speed pitches, particularly his SL; delivery and arm are slower and more deliberate. CU has wide-range of outcomes, ranging from nasty splitter movement thrown in the mid-80s to a flat, floating pitch thrown in the low-80s; doesn’t show confidence in pitch and struggles to command it.
Conclusion: Didn’t change OFP grade. Ogando is a very unique prospect because of his advanced age, developmental hurdles, and room for projection. Featuring an ultra-quick arm, Ogando can touch the upper-90s with his FB, thrown from a low arm-slot. His hard slider can flash the qualities of a major league wipeout pitch, with a sharp two-plane break that is extremely effective against RH. His CU shows some nastiness at times, with mid-80s splitter movement, but currently lags behind his other offerings and doesn’t project on the same level.
His present command/control grades are average with some room to improve with further instruction and repetition. At this point, Ogando just needs to stay healthy and log innings against respectable talent. If his stuff holds against superior competition, he could be a dangerous weapon pitcher at the back of a major league bullpen. Tool-based grade: 57; front-line set-up man/closer at the major league level.