What to Expect Henceforth: Marcell Ozuna

By Nick Tom
Howard Smith-USA Today Sports

Things are sunny yet dark in South Florida these days. The Miami Marlins are 11-26 and Giancarlo Stanton has a dead leg. Fans, only under such title because of their residence in the area the Marlins represent, don’t go to games and hate the management. The new tacky stadium is basically a ghost town, incapable of even luring fans with soft porn actresses doubling as Clevelander pole dancers. There are two signs of life, though: OF Christian Yelich, who is dicing up Double-A like America’s Top Chef does onions, and OF Marcell Ozuna, he of legend similar to that of Chuck Norris.

Upon his call-up from the stinky minors 45 plate-appearances ago, 22-year-old Ozuna is slashing .310/.356/.500 en route to one homer, five doubles, five RBI, and five runs. He’s got that thing going where fans make a bunch of Chuck Norris-like legends that have been perpetuated by the Most Interesting Man in the World commercials. Similar memes and jokes were made with Sam Fuld and Kirk Nieuwenheis upon their promotions, but something tells me Ozuna won’t sputter dead to the degree that they did.

Prior to this season, Baseball America rated Ozuna as the #75 prospect in baseball — the potential is there.

He strikes out too much and doesn’t really like walking — two stats that obviously head in the wrong direction upon MLB promotion, though he’s showing an increased affinity for the BB — but Ozuna has that raw power similar to guys like Dayan Viciedo and epitomized by Bryce Harper. Box score scouting isn’t always smart, but 24 homers in the Florida State League while playing in Jupiter’s pitcher-friendly ballpark is certainly telling. As is common with violent-swinging sluggers, Ozuna’s not a batting average guy. Not even close.

His minor league career accrued a .274 BA. He’s hovering around .300 right now with the Marlins, but that’s a result of his .353 BAbip — a rate not inherently unsustainable but a tad high for someone who doesn’t blaze down the line. Sure, he’s hitting line-drives at a 26% rate, but this is a super-small sample and perhaps pitching scouting reports are bare under the Ozuna category. Expect all that to decline, and safely expect a .260 BA kind of guy, not a .300 one. Expect a .260, 15 homer, 60 RBI, I-can-only-be-so-good-because-the-lineup-around-me-is-so-horrible-please-someone-get-me-some-protection kind of guy.

The lineup definitely hurts his ceiling — one that wasn’t sky-high to begin with — but it assures that Ozuna will be in the lineup every day. He hits lefties better than he does righties but not to the extreme that he’ll find himself in lineup platoon splits, and his shot-cannon arm guarantees that he won’t be pulled late for defensive purposes — a Viciedo problem that causes fantasy owners a whole lot of stress.

(As I write this, Heath Bell blows a save to the Philadelphia Phillies. LOL Heath Bell.)

Ozuna won’t blow the roof off your fantasy team and lead you to fantasy superstardom, but he’s only owned in 12.8% of ESPN standard leagues and is probably swimming around on your waiver wire just waiting to be scooped up. If you’re in 12- or 14-team league or need some injury relief, he’s hot and is worth the acquisition — he’s cheap power. Temper your giddiness and expect a poor man’s Dayan Viciedo. But even Viciedo is kind of a poor man’s Mark Trumbo.

Follow fantasy analyst and cheap humorist Nick Tom on Twitter @NickTomFB


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