Marcell Ozuna is a 25 year-old baseball player from the Dominican Republic who currently holds down the Center Field position for the Miami Marlins. Ozuna is very good at his job. As of this moment, he boasts a healthy .319 BA/.917 OPS/13HR/41RBI and 2.1 WAR and is well on his way to the mid-summer classic; if these numbers confuse you, just trust me, he’s been fucking awesome. However, the clicking sound of people punching All-Star Game ballots is quite different than the voices of many and their opinions of him less than a year ago.

The Grapefruit League Spring Training of 2015 would prove to be the beginning of a tumultuous year for Ozuna. Following a promising 2014 campaign in which, then 23 year-old, Ozuna posted solid numbers – .269 BA/.772 OPS/23HR/85RBI – and seemed primed for his breakout, Miami’s excitable center fielder was drawing some attention. In modern terms, the 5 tool player in baseball might be the most coveted because it has the idea of the “complete player” behind it; for those not familiar, the 5 tools include hitting for average, hitting for power, speed and overall base-running, defensive capabilities, and arm strength. Ozuna certainly possessed all 5 tools and the potential to summon those consistently during the summer had people, like ESPN’s Tony Blengino, predicting “Marlins’ Ozuna is next big thing”. Complete with proven superstar Giancarlo Stanton and his brand new $325 million contract, along with top-of- the-lineup hitter and recent Rawlings Gold Glove recipient Christian Yelich, Ozuna’s outfield crew was being praised by many and Buster Olney’s ESPN group of MLB evaluators even named them the top outfield in baseball going into the 2015 season. The high regard of the young and talented outfield, along with some off season acquisitions had the Fish becoming a trendy, sleeper pick to sneak into a Wild Card Spot in the National League, Grantland’s Michael Baumann even had them going all the way. Indeed, 2015 was going to be Ozuna’s year. But then again, maybe not…

Here’s a little timeline from the end of the 2014 season on.

  • Marcell Ozuna decides to wait on extension as fellow outfielders ink long term deals. – All right, homeboy believes in himself. Respect!
  • Ozuna shows up to 2015 spring training a bit overweight. – So he’s a fatty right now, no big deal. He’ll get there and this isn’t soccer anyways.
  • Marlins season is not going quite as planned – Why does it have to be like this? Players underperforming (like Ozuna) and others hurt.
  • Miami options Ozuna down to Triple A New Orleans on July 5 th ,2015, .249 BA/4HR/26RBI, following a 1 for 36 slump.– Oh, boy!
  • Marlins seem to deem the season a wash and start trading away some players before the deadline – Seen this before.
  • Ozuna’s agent, Scott Boras, is not happy. Claims the Marlins are doing his client wrong -Marlins pissed off the most powerful agent in the sport who also represents their ace? This bodes well.
  • Rumors begin to swirl about Ozuna having played his last game in a Marlins uniform. – No refunds on the jerseys.
  • Ozuna returns to the Marlins lineup Saturday, Aug. 15 th, 2015 after about 5 weeks. Says it was like being in jail. – Feeling slighted is one thing, but a little dramatic, big boy. Watch a lot of Telemundo novelas in the minors, did you?
  • The 2015 season mercifully ended for the Fish and Ozuna is picked by many experts as a lock to be traded before the start of 2016 – Much like a benches clearing brawl, a lot of talk and zero action.

It isn’t really clear what happened in the months since. The hot, baseball blog gossip about Ozuna mentioned the Marlins giving him a short leash but an opportunity to prove himself. What we do know is that Ozuna showed up to Marlins Spring Training 20lbs lighter, has seemed to really hit it off with and flourish under new hitting coach, Barry Bonds, and is raking anything coming out of the hands of opposing pitchers. In a year where the player with the biggest contract in North American sports history (Stanton) is hell-bent on continuously flirting with the Mendoza line, and the scrawny, All-Star second baseman gets busted for trying to get his Jose Canseco on, Marcell Ozuna has been a constant stud and a lot of fun to watch as he brings all that potential talent to fruition.

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Enrique Sierra
Enrique Sierra, Jr. is a writer, editor, and podcast co-host for Lemon City Live. A Miami, Florida sports fanatic just trying to live the dream.

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