Marcell Ozuna might not be in Triple-A much longer. The Marlins optioned their starting center fielder to New Orleans after a slow offensive start, and according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, the club is hoping Ozuna will not have a lengthy stay within their minor league system.
Miami still believes Ozuna will establish himself as a plus major league option however he struggled at the plate to open the year. He posted a .249/.301/.337 batting line to complement four home runs and 26 RBIs before being optioned but has since had a fair amount of success with New Orleans. He is batting .286/.286/.476 while posting one home run and a pair of RBIs through five games.
Jackson adds Ozuna's agent, Scott Boras, believes Ozuna has not received enough at-bats this season to be accurately evaluated.
"You don’t evaluate a player in one season. I do it in 2000 to 2200 at bats. He really has all five tools. He has a chance to be a very good player. But there’s a learning process because the league makes an adjustment."
Without Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins have been forced to utilize different lineups in an attempt to score runs consistently. Casey McGehee and Cole Gillespie had success before the end of the first half and the club will be counting on Justin Bour, Christian Yelich, and Adeiny Hechavarria until Stanton returns. Miami is also without Martin Prado and Dee Gordon, at least for the series against Philadelphia to open the second half, and as a result will likely be counting on Ozuna to adjust quickly.
Ichiro Suzuki, Michael Morse, and Gillespie have all seen time in the outfield since Ozuna was initially demoted. However, the Marlins want Ozuna playing consistently and Miami's bench might be more productive in the second half as a result of spot starters receiving consistent playing time.
The Marlins have found a way to score without Ozuna in the lineup. But he might return rather quickly.