If Miami Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna has a career year, former Boston Red Sox great David Ortiz can say he called it first.
Ortiz and Ozuna had a conversation two years ago that may be the inspiration for Ozuna’s success in the majors.
"He said, 'Homeboy, it's just starting for you now,' " Ozuna recalled. " 'Don't worry, you're going to be great at the end. You're a good talent. You can make a lot of money in this game.'"
Along with being an iconic player with the Red Sox before retiring last year, Ortiz also has an eye for talent. Big Papi saw star power in Ozuna, and the Miami left fielder continues to impress.
The story on MLB.com by Joe Frisaro is the kind that could as prove to be an example of how this team plays this season. After defeating the New York Mets 8-1 on Saturday night, it’s those moments players like Ozuna reflect on and smile.
"This guy can really hit," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "If he stays in his game, and doesn't get wild, and swings at strikes, he can really hit."
Ozuna's drive in the second inning is the Marlins' hardest-hit home run of the season, and his fourth highest home run reading since Statcast™ launched in 2015. His personal high is 447 feet with an exit velocity of 113.8 mph, set on May 29, 2016.
The 26-year-old Ozuna was signed by the Florida Marlins as a non-drafted free agent. He played for the DSL Marlins that year, where in 63 games, he hit .279 with 6 HR and 43 RBI and 8 stolen bases. In 2009, he played for the GCL Marlins, where in 55 games, he hit .313 with 5 HR and 39 RBI.
Ozuna began 2010 with Single-A Greensboro, but was sidelined after 6 appearances with an injured wrist. He returned in June with Short Season Jamestown, where he finished the season. In 74 total games, he hit .258 with 22 HR and 62 RBI. Ozuna spent 2011 with Greensboro, where in 131 games, he hit .266 with 23 HR, 71 RBI and 17 stolen bases.
Ozuna batting for the Jupiter Hammerheads, advanced-A affiliates of the Marlins, in 2012
Ozuna was promoted to A-Advanced Jupiter for the 2012 season, where in 129 games, he hit .266 with 24 HR and 95 RBI. That year, he led the Florida State League in home runs, RBIs, runs scored, and total bases. Ozuna was added to the Marlins' 40-man roster on November 20, 2012.
Baseball America rated Ozuna the 75th best prospect in baseball prior to the 2013 season.
Ozuna opened 2013 with Jupiter, but after 4 games, he was promoted to Double-A Jacksonville.
Ozuna was named the Southern League's player of the week on April 29, 2013. That same day, the Marlins promoted Ozuna to the major leagues following an injury to Giancarlo Stanton.
On the major-league level, Ozuna has shown slashes of his ability, but in some cases, has been overshadowed by the work of Stanton and Christian Yelich.
In 2016, Ozuna was a first-time All-Star and he finished with 23 homers and 76 RBIs. He's off to a hot start, batting .429 with a homer and six RBIs in five games.