Editors Note: Would like to welcome Ryan Lenna to the Marlin Maniac staff. Miller will help buff up the coverage on the Marlins, as the team hopes to stay in contention heading into the deep summer months.
With the offseason departure of Justin Ruggiano, whose 18 homers last season were only second behind team home run leader Giancarlo Stanton‘s 24, it was apparent that Mike Redmond‘s Marlins were in need of power in the starting lineup.
Enter Marcell Ozuna, this year’s starting center fielder who saw action in center and right field last season after being called up to replace the then-injured Stanton. Ozuna, 23, saw limited action last season. Ozuna made his Major League debut on April 30 at right field, but when Stanton returned to the starting lineup, Ozuna bumped over to center, where he started until July 22, when a torn thumb ligament suffered on a diving catch to rob Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer of a base hit would sideline him for the remainder of the year. Ozuna accounted for three homers and 32 RBIs in his shorted 2013 season.
This year, however, Ozuna has come through with much needed power and defensive ability for the Fish. In Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Braves, Ozuna belted a two-run homer to center, his tenth on the year, and was credited for batting in the only two runs the Marlins could score on the day. Now at 35 runs batted in on the year,
it is safe to say that Ozuna (.264) might be the answer that Redmond and the Marlins were searching for. Second on the team behind Stanton, who leads the entire National League with 16 homers on the year, Ozuna’s 10 are nothing to take for granted, especially for such a young team. For a club that at this point last year held an embarrassing 15-41 record, the NL East’s second place Marlins (28-28) are finally picking up steam. With plenty of baseball left to be played, the young squad still deserves credit for this year’s turnaround so far.
In addition to his ten home runs and thirty-five runs batted in on the season, Ozuna has been credited with some phenomenal defensive plays thus far, including a diving grab to record the second out of the sixth inning in Sunday’s loss.
Is it to say that the 23 year old Dominican Republic native is the answer to all the Marlins’ woes? Of course not, but do not underestimate the spark that Ozuna has provided for the Fish so far.