Hitters like Miguel Sano, Marcell Ozuna, and Starlin Castro refuse to make things easy on pitchers.
We are, inarguably, living in the Golden Age Of Offensive Platitudes. Russell A. Carleton tossed out several of them in one recent column: “Sit fastball. Swing hard. Strikeouts don’t matter.” The Pirates say “OPS is in the air,” which is really just the Cubs’ “there’s no slug on the ground,” but stood on its head. Josh Donaldson wants you to “just say no to ground balls,” which is unimaginative but clear enough.
Modern offense comes down to launch angle and exit velocity, and to maximizing extra-base power (especially home runs) in order to make up for an unabating upshoot in strikeout rate. To be a great hitter in the modern game is nowhere near easy, but it’s fairly simple. Most teams, and many individual players, have dedicated themselves to breaking down hitting to the simplest set of basic ideas possible, so that batters can adapt to the unprecedented velocity and sheer stuff of modern pitchers as deftly as possible.
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After plenty of ups and downs, the Marlins outfielder is setting himself free.
We live in a Golden Age of player development. Teams understand their players—and especially their young, talented players—far better than they used to understand them. Just as importantly, though, players understand themselves far better than they used to. In this era dominated by strikeouts, defensive innovations, and so many home runs, with all the technological and instructional resources available, there is no good reason (other than wanting makeup, the kind that prevents one from taking full advantage of those resources) for a team to give up on a talented player.
Stardom is always one turned corner away, and there are more intersections at which to make such a turn than ever. For Marcell Ozuna, there have been a few wrong turns. He came up way back in 2013, and has shown flashes of brilliance in every season since. He’s a fine defensive outfielder, though better suited to a corner spot than to center field. He possesses a strong arm, and he pairs his natural power at the plate with a good enough instinctual approach to get by. He’s battled inconsistency, insufficient contact, and a vulnerability to right-handed pitching, but the talent has always been obvious.
Why it's too early for fantasy owners to write the Marlins outfielder off completely.
Coming off a stellar sophomore campaign at just 23 years old—in which he slashed .269/.317/.455 with 72 runs scored, 23 home runs, 85 RBI and three stolen bases—Marcell Ozuna was a budding fantasy superstar entering the 2015 season. Then, like a comet streaking across the night sky, he suddenly vanished. What happened and more importantly how should fantasy owners value him going forward?
In the first installment of this series, Ben and Craig take you from Domingo Santana to Jonathan Schoop.
We’ve done it, Internet. We’ve compiled a Big List of Players just for you.
Craig and I have spent the past six weeks breaking down each division, forming individual top-30 U25 dynasty rankings and comparing those lists with some witty (read: tired) commentary in each installment. We’ve also been debating each list on TINO, with the help of Dear Leader Bret Sayre and Mauricio Rubio, and have fielded many questions and concerns on Twitter and via the comments section, too.
Notes on prospects playing abroad, including White Sox infielder Leury Garcia and Red Sox shortstop Heiker Meneses.
Leury Garcia, INF, White Sox (Gigantes del Cibao, DWL): 1-3. Garcia probably won’t hit enough to play every day and has virtually no power to speak of, but his versatility could make him a solid utility man, perhaps as soon as this year. He’s been playing all over the infield in the Dominican this winter and has the tools to play multiple middle-of-the-diamond positions at the major-league level.
Notes on players who stood out abroad, including Padres outfielder Rymer Liriano.
Prospect of the Day: Rymer Liriano, RF, Padres (Tigres del Licey, DWL): 1-4, R, HR. You may have forgotten about Liriano because he missed the entire 2013 season after having Tommy John surgery in Feburary. The time off was a big blow for the super-toolsy but raw Liriano, who needed all the minor-league at-bats he could get. TJ for position players is different than it is for pitchers, so there’s not too much concern about his plus arm coming back, but the missed at-bats could hurt his hit tool, which was his weak link anyway. He just joined the Tigres to help make up for lost time and should return to Double-A where he struggled in 2012.
The Situation: Though he has played only 10 games above High-A, the Marlins are looking to 22-year-old outfielder Marcell Ozuna to fill the void left created by Giancarlo Stanton’s trip to the disabled list with a hamstring injury. The Marlins added Ozuna to their 40-man roster over the offseason, which made the decision to call him up now that much easier. The 22-year-old, who was ranked no. 10 on BP’s Marlins Top 10 list by, was hitting .333 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 10 games for Double-A Jacksonville.
Background: Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, Ozuna debuted with the Marlins’ DSL affiliate that summer, posting a .279 batting average while knocking 14 doubles and six home runs as a 17-year-old. Playing in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2009, Ozuna continued to excel at a young age, this time hitting .313 in 55 games and blasting another 22 doubles and five more home runs. After starting with Low-A Greensboro in 2010, Ozuna broke a bone in his left wrist, forcing him to miss the next two months. After recovering, Ozuna tore through the New York-Penn League, leading the league in home runs (21) and runs batted in (60). The Marlins gave him another crack at Low-A in 2011, and he handled it well, posting a .266/.330/.482 line in 131 games. After a promotion to High-A for the 2012 season, Ozuna nearly duplicated his batting line (.266/.328/.476) while leading the Florida State League in home runs (24) and RBI (95).
It was an interesting night in the Dominican Winter League. This kid named Miguel Sano went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He must be terrible, right? Wait a minute. I'll search the internet and find some info on him. Oh, never mind. He hit 28 homers in Lo-A ball as a 19 year-old and those prospect geeks here at Baseball Prospectus are supposedly ranking him in the Top 25 of their upcoming Top 101 Prospects List. Must’ve been an off night. I also noticed that this guy named Manny had four hits in his game. Figured he must be in this top 101, too. He wasn’t. It turns out he's an older guy that debuted in the majors way before the invention of prospect ranking.
Updates on 12 players from the Arizona Fall League, including the Rising Stars game, and the Dominican/Venezuelan Leagues.
If you haven't heard, Reds prospect Billy Hamilton is the fastest man in baseball. He broke the minor league single-season record of 145 stolen bases, set in 1983 by Vince Coleman, and finished the season with 155 steals between Hi-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.The 22 year-old Hamilton, who was recently moved from shortstop to center field, was easily the most exciting player in Saturday's Rising Stars game. When you start a game like this - leadoff walk, steal 2nd, steal 3rd, score later in the inning - it tends to cause a lot of excitement in the ballpark. Baseball fans, not to mention Fantasy Baseball players, love the stolen base almost as much as the home run. More excitement ensued later in the game when Hamilton bunted for a base hit. Unfortunately, one of the most disappointing moments of the game also occurred during that same play. A two-base throwing error meant that he couldn't steal second and third again. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one yelling, "Stay at first! Stay at first!"