In 2013, Marcell Ozuna started out his big league career in a big way, slashing .330/.372/462 in his first full month. He looked primed to be the protection for Giancarlo Stanton that the Miami Marlins had been searching for. Things didn’t stay the same way, however, as time went by, and in July, Ozuna was set to be demoted due to a prolonged slump. The outfielder wound up injuring himself in his final big league game and missed the remainder of the season. Now, heading into Spring Training, Ozuna has the center field job waiting for him and the opportunity to start the year in the big leagues. Ozuna will make the most of that opportunity, and when 2014 ends, he will be looked at as a feared part of the middle of the order for years to come.
Ozuna would need to have a horrid March in order to miss the Opening Day roster at this point if various reports are to be believed. Glancing at the Marlins’ expected roster would tell you that there simply is not much competition for the job now that Justin Ruggiano was traded to Chicago Cubs. Jake Marisnick does have a slight chance of winning the job, but he would need to dominate the Grapefruit League at the same time that Ozuna falters. This not a likely outcome, and it is far more probable that Marisnick will open the year in the minor leagues for Miami. Marisnick is very talented and has a future with the team, but he may need more seasoning after looking over-matched in his first big league go-around during 2013.
One thing that the Marlins will need from Ozuna is an increase in power, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Despite the fact that he showed very little home run power in 2013, Ozuna has always been known as a prolific slugger while coming up in the Marlins’ system, and the power should begin to display at the big league level in 2014. That power, along with a more consistent approach at the plate, should give Stanton the protection he needs while also giving the Marlins’ pitching staff that extra run support they missed in 2013.