What Has Changed? Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins

Rich Schultz

This time last year Marcell Ozuna was playing in High-A. How has his rise to the Majors affected his long-term outlook?

Changes in a prospects' stock are quite normal as they rise through the ranks of the Minor Leagues. Injuries, hot or cold streaks, or even just new information can really elevate or drop a young player in rankings. Throughout the season, Kevin Nielsen and I will be looking at some players that have been profiled before at Fake Teams, and talking about what has changed since. This afternoon we look at a prospect whose situation has changed more than anything, Marlins' outfielder Marcell Ozuna.

What we said last year

Ozuna entered the 2012 season as a sleeper prospect on many lists, but not a can't miss player by any stretch of the imagination. He has a classic right field profile with a good arm, plus power, and a questionable hit tool. Last season, he spent the entire year at High-A, hitting .266 with 24 home runs and 116 strikeouts. While we never profiled him in his own article, he ranked 96th on the Fake Teams Top-100 Dynasty League prospects and Jason Hunt mentioned him in the Keeper League Thoughts series saying:

He seems like he could be an interesting prospect for deep dynasty leagues, even if he doesn't improve on his batting average as he progresses through the minors.

What we think now

If we asked 100 analysts during the offseason which rookie outfielder would be making an impact for the Marlins in May, everyone would have said Christin Yelich. Despite Yelich's prospect superiority and torrid start at Double-A Jacksonville (.323/.395/.677), it was Ozuna that got the call when Giancarlo Stanton landed on the disabled list. Let's be clear though, the promotion was deserved. As mentioned above, Ozuna is a good prospect in his own right, and he did hit 5 home runs in just 10 games in Jacksonville this year. More surprising than the promotion though, is the fact that he hasn't stopped hitting since his arrival in Miami. Albeit in a small sample, he is hitting .295 with a .459 slugging percentage and actually batting cleanup for the woeful Fish. What does all this mean for his future? Well, the immediate future continues to look bright as Stanton is not expected back until sometime in June. That means Ozuna should have continue to play every day, and let's face it, someone has to drive the runs in in Miami. If he's still available he should be picked up in all but the shallowest of leagues. His long-term outlook gets trickier. Entering the season, I liked Ozuna as much as anyone at Fake Teams, including him in my bold predictions for the season. I certainly wasn't bold enough to say he'd be playing in May though! Frankly the improvements I was hoping for still have not come to fruition. He has struck out in 25 of 118 trips to the plate while walking just 6 times in 2013. He does have 25-30 home run power (so plus, yet not truly elite) potential that of course hinges almost entirely on the utility of his hit tool. Ozuna probably could have used more time at Double-A, so for his development I hope the Marlins don't keep him in Miami for the entire season. That being said, if he can hold his own and make the adjustments at the highest level, it will ultimately raise his ceiling in my eyes. I am aware that there are a lot of "if's" in my last few sentences, so let's just say I like Ozuna to reach his full potential making him a solid second fantasy outfielder for a long time.

For more on Ozuna and the rest of the Marlins, be sure to check out SB Nation's Miami blog, Fish Stripes.

Andrew Ball is a writer for Fake Teams, Fantasy Ninjas, and Beyond the Box Score.

You can follow him on twitter @Andrew_Ball.

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