Marlins Spring Training Competition: Marcell Ozuna Losing Ground?
By Ehsan Kassim
Mar 2, 2014; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) throws over Miami Marlins right fielder Marcell Ozuna (13) as part of a double-play in the second inning as the Nationals beat the Marlins 10-3 in a spring training exhibition game at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
Spring Training action got under way for the Miami Marlins last week, as the team played a total four games in Grapefruit League action. The start of the spring games means that the competition for the Marlins two positions up for grabs will start to heat up quickly.
Each Monday on Marlin Maniac, we’ll take a look at a weekly update on how the competitions for the center field job and the fifth starters role are shaping out. If any other competitions open up due to injuries or anything else unforeseen, we will be keeping tabs on those as well.
Center Field Battle:
[table id=13 /]
We are obviously not going to judge the battle based on a small sample size of just 6 and 4 at bats for the two young players, but the four strikeouts in just six at bats early on for Marcell Ozuna has to be a bit concerning.
Jake Marisnick had a big RBI triple for the Marlins in their Spring Opener against the St. Louis Cardinals and has also displayed his speed with a stolen base.
One week into the competition, that Ozuna was seen as the favorite over Marisnick will keep him in the lead. If Ozuna continues to struggle with strikeouts though, Marisnick may have a legitimate chance to steal the job from Ozuna for Opening Day on March 31st.
Fifth Starter Battle:
[table id=14 /]
As we mentioned last week, Brad Hand has emerged as the front runner for the Marlins fifth spot in the rotation due to the fact that he is out of options and the Marlins would risk losing him if they had to send him down to the minors. Hand had a strong first start, as his control was not an issue. With him being out of options, he just needs to show decent control in the spring and his chances of winning this are strong.
Flynn allowed two runs in his two innings of work and combined with his struggles last September, still has to show the Marlins that he is ready for the big leagues. He still has plenty of time to turn things around.
The incumbent to the fifth spot in the rotation, Tom Koehler is very much in the mix and his résumé from last season gives him an upper hand over the rest of the competition if one or two of the players end the spring with similar numbers.
Andrew Heaney and Adam Conley are more likely to begin the season in the minors than not, but can still push the Marlins to make a tough decision on either. Kevin Slowey will attempt to latch on with the team on a minor league deal for the second straight season, but the fact he’s already not on the 40-man roster hurts his chances.
We are just one week into these competitions and they will become much heated later on. What are your thoughts on the early results from the Marlins youngsters so far? Leave us a comment and let us know how you guys think these competitions will play out.