Mar 29, 2016

Mid Nineties Mets Outfielder: Alex Ochoa (1995-1997)

Alex Ochoa was born on March 29, 1972 in Miami Lakes Florida. He was signed by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round of the 1991 draft. 

Over the next four seasons Baseball America had his rated along the top fifty prospects each season, peaking at #35 in 1995. He hit over .290 three times in his first four seasons getting up to the AA ball level. 

He eventually got traded to the New York Mets with Damon Buford (son of former 1969 Oriole Don Buford) in July 1995 in exchange for Bobby Bonilla.

After landing at AAA Tidewater he batted .309 in 34 games with two HRs six doubles & 15 RBIs before getting called up to the big leagues in September. He made his MLB debut on September 18th, 1995 getting a hit in his first at bat stealing a base & scoring a run against the Braves in a 7-1 Mets loss at Atlanta.

As a September call up he hit .297 going 11-37, with four multi hit games in eleven games played. There was a lot of hype for the highly touted prospect Ochoa, for the future. In 1996 he began the year at AAA Tidewater, where he hit .339 getting called up to the Mets on June 22nd.

In his first game back up, he singled & drove in two runs helping the Mets to a 5-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds. He would have eleven hits in eight games entering July batting .344. On July 3rd, he had a monster day in Philadelphia, hitting for the cycle in the Mets 10-6 win over the Phillies. 

He went 5-5 that day with a single in his first at bat. He then tripled off Terry Mulholland in the 4th inning, scoring Todd Hundley. He hit a solo HR in the 8th inning & had a pair of doubles with three RBIs and three runs scored in the 10-6 Mets win. 

In the first two weeks og the month he drove in fourteen runs. He had raised his average up to .390 in his first two weeks back in the majors. At the end of July he was still hitting well batting .312 and remained steady through the season. In September he hit safley in ten of twelve games keeping his average over .300, but he went hitless in his final three games, which had him finish off with a .294 batting average. In 82 games he hit four HRs with 19 doubles 33 RBIs 37 runs scored & a .336 on base %.

In 1997 he began as the Mets main right fielder but struggled at the plate, no getting over the .200 mark until mid June. Eventually Manager Bobby Valentine used the slow footed Butch Huskey in right field more often. Ochoa began to hit better in the summer months, including a rare game winning HR in the top of the 10th inning against the Braves in Atlanta on July 13th. On September 10th he had a four hit, three RBI day against the Phillies in a big Mets 10-2 win at Shea Stadium.

Overall he saw action in 113 games as a fifth outfielder posting the league fourth best fielding % in right field (.982%). His batting average dropped to .244 with three HRs 22 RBIs & a .300 on base %. At the end of the season he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Rick Becker who hit .190 in 49 games for the 1998 Mets.

Ochoa batted .288 in Minnesota and then was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers as a player to be named later. In Milwaukee he had a fine season, batting .300 with a .404 on base % along with eight HRs & 40 RBIs playing in 119 games.

Next year he was sent to the Cincinnati Reds where he had career highs in batting average (.316) HRs (13) & RBIs (58). He was the teams fourth outfielder behind Dante Bichette, Dimitri Young & Ken Griffey. That year the Reds finished second under Jack McKeon going 85-77. 

Over the next two years he would play for three teams; Colorado Rockies (2001) hitting a career high 30 doubles between there & the Reds, batting .276. 

In 2002 he played back in Milwaukee & then in Anaheim with the World Champion to be Angels. He saw action in all three post season series, going 2-4 as a pinch hitter in the ALCS against the Minnesota Twins.

Ochoa never hit near the .300 level again. In 2003 he went to play in Japan for & stayed there for four seasons. After an eight year MLB career he batted .289 with 587 hits playing for seven different teams. He also hit 46 HRs with131 doubles 261 RBIs  56 stolen bases & a .344 on base %. 

Retirement: In 2009 he became an assistant coach for the Boston Red Sox. In 2010 he was a Red Sox special assistant for baseball operations. In 2011 he served as batting coach at A ball Salem.

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