Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Miami Marlins prospect Marcell Ozuna currently leads the Dominican Winter League in home runs.
Marcell Ozuna has looked like a completely different ballplayer than he did in June and July of this year. After hitting.343/.400/.629 in August at High-A Jupiter, Marcell Ozuna has carried his success into Liga de Beisbol Dominicano, or the Dominican Winter League. Currently leading the league in home runs, Ozuna is playing on a team that features Jean Segura, Alexi Casilla, Carlos Peguero, and Moises Sierra. If Ozuna continues putting up big numbers regardless of his competition, it's not absurd to think that he could be playing with the Marlins when rosters expand in 2013.
Marcell Ozuna's first DWL homer came on the Gigantes del Cibao's first game of the season off of Juan Sandoval in the eighth inning. Sandoval spent the 2012 season in the Mexican League, but he pitched in minor league baseball for the last couple years before that. Ozuna's second homer came off of Jose Diaz in the very next game. Diaz is built like C.C. Sabathia, except Diaz is about forty pounds heavier. Diaz pitched with the Pirates Triple-A affiliate in 2012, and he's been pitching in the minors since 2001.
Ozuna's success continued in the Gigantes' third game of the year, where he double and homered off of the 6-foot-5 Justin Fitzgerald, who spent the 2012 season with San Francisco's Double-A affiliate, the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Ozuna's fourth homer came off of Warner Madrigal, who last pitched in the minors with Trenton in 2011. Out of the five pitchers Ozuna homered off, Madrigal is probably the least talented. Ozuna's fifth homer came on the 29th off of Jailen Peguero. Peguero was named the Mexican League Reliever of the Year after this season.
In a recent interview with Tony Reyes, Ozuna spoke about his time in the DWL: "Before I started the season I said I would work to establish myself as a respected hitter in the Dominican League, and I am responding with my bat, I still have much to prove because this is just the beginning. I mean, I don't want to play here to glorify myself or lead the league in home runs but rather my aim is to help the team. Many of the pitchers don't know me and they don't know what I am capable of doing offensively, I play with intensity and when it's my turn to hit I will produce." What stood out to me about this quote is Ozuna's tremendous self-confidence, in addition to his desire to help his team win games. It's pretty amazing to hear that Ozuna has developed into a ballplayer that cares so much about the results on the scoreboard.
Ozuna is now hitting .341, with a league-leading five home runs on the season. Playing in a league with Oscar Taveras, Pedro Feliz, Leonys Martin, and other talented baseball players, Ozuna has emerged as the most productive hitter through the first ten games. I am hopeful that Ozuna can continue to control his strikeouts, and show even more power in the coming weeks down in the Dominican Republic.