As of right now, Marcell Ozuna is the Miami Marlins‘ starting center fielder. That could change very shortly depending on the play of center field prospect Jake Marisnick. The battle between Ozuna and Marisnick for the center field job will be one of the more compelling story lines for the Marlins this spring.
Last season Ozuna got a little taste of the majors as he played in 70 games and hit .265. He didn’t present much of a power threat and he also didn’t steal many bases. At this point, it almost seems like Ozuna could be keeping the position warm for Marisnick whenever he’s ready for the call-up.
One concern with Marisnick, however, is his recovering torn left meniscus from last season. Even though he’s expected to be back by the start of spring training, there’s always concern with an injury of that type. The fact that he’s expected back by the start of spring training means that Ozuna will have to work extra hard to keep his spot on the Marlins’ roster.
Just like Marisnick, Ozuna has never played at the Triple-A level so it’s possible that even after playing almost half of a season in the big leagues, the Marlins could decide to get him some extra seasoning in the higher levels of the minor leagues. It seems more likely for Marisnick to be the one to receive extra seasoning, but if he thoroughly impresses in spring training, then the job is his for the taking.
If Ozuna could get his average up into the .280′s and start displaying some gap power, then the Marlins will have to find a place for him. Even if Marisnick claims the center field job, Ozuna will have a home on the big league roster if he can adjust and improve his hitting approach. How hard he’s been working on those things in the offseason will be evident in spring training and it will also likely determine whether or not he starts his season in Miami.