Name: Marcell Ozuna
Notable 2011 Stats: .266/.330/.482 with 28 2B, 5 3B, 23 HR, 121/46 K/BB, and 17-for-19 SB in 131 games with Greensboro (A)
Why He’s This High: Entering the 2011 season, Ozuna’s power was unquestioned–he’d bashed 21 homers in 68 games in short-season ball the year before. Still, he wasn’t seen as a top prospect for one reason–he’d struck out 94 times.
Ozuna continued to crush the ball (albeit at a slightly lower rate) in 2011, but the big surprise was that he cut his strikeout rate from 32.1% to 21.9% while increasing his walk rate from 5.8% to 8.3%.
With the worries over his approach mostly soothed in 2011, Ozuna now is a well-rounded outfielder. He stole bases very well this year, and his plus arm makes him project as a solid defensive right fielder. He remains projectable, and could well be an annual 30-HR hitter when he grows into his body.
Why He’s This Low: Ozuna still remains somewhat raw. His 121/46 K/BB in 131 games looks great compared to his 94/17 of the year before, but it’s still teetering right on the edge of “doesn’t control the strike zone” territory. It’s a positive sign that he was able to adjust, but he’ll need to adjust quite a bit more to fulfill his upside.
His rawness transferred to his outfield play as well, as Ozuna committed ten errors in right field on the season. He needs to work on his routes in right field. When he fills out, he’s likely to lose most of his basestealing, so while he should retain enough athleticism to play a solid right field, his nice year on the basepaths probably won’t stay with him.
Conclusions: Ozuna’s made rapid progress in the past year, but he still has plenty of seasoning to get. He’s got bigtime power, and he’s starting to refine his approach enough to ensure that his power will play in games. He’s also not entirely a one-dimensional player, so he’s got a chance to become neither an out machine nor a defensive liability. As a player who will be 21 all of next season, he’s still young and has plenty of time to further tighten up his game. His ability to adjust thus far bodes well for his continuing to adapt.
He could be the next Nelson Cruz if everything breaks right, with bigtime power and some athleticism in right field. While Christian Yelich was the Greensboro outfielder who got a ton of hype, I believe Ozuna is the superior prospect due to his higher upside and greater power ceiling. If Yelich could stay in center (which he probably won’t), the two prospects could team up with Mike Stanton to form a dynamic young outfield; if not, they team will have enviable outfield depth and some good trade options.
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