Outfielder Marcell Ozuna was among Baseball America’s top-100 prospects entering last season, but he was not a familiar name to most baseball fans or fantasy baseball owners. That soon changed after he was promoted to replace an injured Giancarlo Stanton by the Miami Marlins in late April, as he hit .300 with two home runs, 26 RBI and four stolen bases through the end of June (53 games, 218 plate appearances). But he struggled in July (.162 batting average), fueling news of a demotion on the same day he suffered a torn ligament in his left thumb that caused him to miss the rest of the season. Ozuna finished with a .265 batting average, three home runs, 32 RBI and five stolen bases in 70 games played (291 plate appearances) as a rookie, along with a .303 on-base percentage and a .389 slugging percentage.
With the recent trade of Justin Ruggiano to the Chicago Cubs, Ozuna is in line to be the starting center fielder for the Marlins in 2014. But does that mean fantasy owners should buy in to his potential?
Ozuna started last season in High-A ball and only had 42 at-bats in Double-A prior to being called up, and his sudden fast track to the big leagues was an even bigger surprise considering he had spent the previous three full seasons at some level of A-ball. His power numbers were not great during his time with the Marlins, but he does have three seasons with more than 20 home runs and a slugging percentage of .487 during his minor league career.
Assuming he is able to stick in the majors and stays in Miami’s lineup every day next season, with an attached assumption of 500-plus at-bats under that circumstance, I project Ozuna to hit 15-20 home runs and drive in 70-75 runs along with 5-10 stolen bases. His batting average will not necessarily hamper his fantasy value in a significant fashion, but without a better approach at the plate (57 strikeouts and just 13 walks with Miami in 2013) he is unlikely to be a notable contributor in that category.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.