Ozuna is a cousin of former Major League utilityman Pablo Ozuna.
In 2008, Marcell signed with the Marlins.
In 2009, Ozuna finished fifth in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in batting (.313), sixth in on-base plus slugging (.863), and second with 39 RBIs.
In 2010, Marcell broke Jamestown single-season records for home runs (21) and RBIs (60), topped the New York-Penn League in both categories and finished two homers shy of the NY-P record, set in 1982. He also led the NY-P in strikeouts (94), illustrating his feast-or-famine approach.
In 2010, Baseball America rated Ozuna as the 12th-best prospect in the Marlins organization. They moved him up to #9 in the winter before 2011 spring training. And he was up to #2 in the Marlins' farm system in the spring of 2012.
They had Marcell at 5th-best prospect in the Marlins' farm system in the offseason before 2013 spring camps opened.
In 2011, Ozuna finished second in the SAL in runs (87), third in total bases (239), and fourth in homers (23).
In 2012, Marcell led the Florida State League in homers (24), RBIs (95), total bases (233), and slugging (.476).
In fact, Ozuna has hit 20-plus home runs in each season since 2010 and he flew up the prospect rankings. Despite that, Ozuna has a lot of issues with bat control and pitch recognition, which led to 116 strikeouts in 2012.
- In 2012, Marlins' manager Mike Redmond managed Dunedin in the Blue Jay's organization. He recalls seeing Ozuna, who was with Jupiter, looking a little sloppy in appearance.
"When I saw him, he had one pant leg down, and one up here like this," Redmond said. "I was like, 'Man, what's wrong with this guy?' I don't know if it was on purpose or not. He looked like a mess out there. I kind of liked this guy. This guy is just having fun.
"He's aggressive. He's going to come out and swing the bat, but he's got a lot of power. I think he will always have to work on getting good pitches to hit. I think he has that ability to swing the bat. The way he plays, he has nothing to lose. Sometimes those guys with nothing-to-lose attitudes are really good."
The importance of playing hard was instilled by Marcell's father, Marcelino, when Ozuna was growing up in the Dominican Republic.
"Hustling is important," the rookie right fielder said. "Every time, you need to hustle to get better. My Dad, he would tell me all the time: 'Hey, keep going, keep going. Do everything right. If you do everything right, you will be famous.' You never know."
July 9, 2016: The first-time All-Star learned he would be in the starting lineup for the NL.
Feb 24, 2017: On any given day in the offseason, it's basically a Who's Who? of big league talent that gathers at Robinson Cano's baseball academy in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. Cano opens his place up to his friends, and there's no shortage of star power that trains in his gym and on his field. Among the regulars is Marcell Ozuna, a fellow Dominican.
Ozuna's training partners were often Edwin Encarnacion, Jean Segura, Eduardo Nunez, Leonys Martin, Carlos Santana and Welington Castillo. Yasiel Puig has also stopped by to hit. "Monday through Friday," Ozuna said. "There was like seven or eight of us." In the mornings, they'd be in the weight room. Before noon, they took the field.
The past few years, Ozuna talked hitting with Cano. The advice and training routine paid off as Ozuna was an All-Star for the first time in 2016. After Yoenis Cespedes and Dexter Fowler withdrew due to injuries, Ozuna started in center field for the NL in San Diego. "It was one of the best days I've ever had in my career," Ozuna said. "My mom and dad were there. My wife, my sister, my family."
"He plays with a smile," manager Don Mattingly said. "He loves to play. He wants to be out there. He's not a guy that's looking for days off, ever."
But after the All-Star break in 2016, it was clear that Ozuna's game still is a work in progress. His second-half numbers were .209/.267/.342 with 6 homers and 29 RBIs. For the season, he finished .266/.321/.452 with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs.
"I think everything is a learning process," Mattingly said. "He had the big first half, and after the All-Star Game, he seemed to struggle. I think all of that is part of the process of learning. Playing the full season, the consistency we're looking for, and how do we prepare for that? How do we deal with all of that?"
Ozuna also is starting off in a different position than last Spring Training. He's switched with Christian Yelich, who is now in center, with Ozuna in left. Mattingly added Ozuna will play all over the outfield, occasionally seeing time in center and right.
"His defense in left field was Gold Glove-quality," Mattingly said. "When we moved him out there, his numbers came back really, really good. He's a weapon for us out there." (J Frisaro - MLB.com - Feb 24, 2017)
May 3, 2017: In the top of the fourth inning of Miami's 10-6 win over the Rays, Marcell launched a home run that threatened to reach escape velocity until it hit Tampa Bay's 2011 Wild Card banner:
According to Statcast, at 468 feet, that blast was the fifth-longest homer of the year, the longest of Ozuna's career and the second-longest in the history of Tropicana Field. (Landers - mlb.com)
Ozuna's nickname: Ozuna started being called Big Bear shortly after he signed as a teenager with the Marlins. A native of the Dominican Republic, bear in Spanish is "oso." A scout pinned the nickname on him. "He said, 'Why do you eat so much?'" Ozuna said. "I said, 'I'm like a bear.' From that day, they put that as my name. 'Hey, Big Bear.' I like it."
Dec 14, 2017: Ozuna called it a blessing to land in St Louis. The outfielder said, 'I'm going to give the Cardinal fans a reason to smile."
They had laughed about the possibility before, with Yadier Molina and Carlos Martinez telling Marcell Ozuna that they were going to find a way to get him to St. Louis. And sure enough, they did. Ozuna officially became teammates with Molina and Martinez, the latter of whom he has been close to for years. Ozuna celebrated his 27th birthday in Martinez's home, neither knowing at the time that the Cardinals would soon execute a five-player trade to acquire one of 2017's most productive National League players.
"That nervousness [about coming to St. Louis] went away when I started to reflect on those encounters and exchanges with Carlos and Yadi," Ozuna said, with Cardinals assistant general manager Moises Rodriguez providing the translation. "If I'm being traded to the Cardinals, at least I'm being traded to a group of guys that I know. That anxiety and that nervousness went away."
"I never thought I would be traded," Ozuna said. "I thought maybe the higher-salary players would be the ones [to go] and I would be one of the ones kept. When the rumors and what was being published was becoming more frequent and on the news every night, I started to get a little nervous." That nervousness has since faded to anticipation for Ozuna, who spoke excitedly about the opportunity to join a club that is a perennial postseason contender. In five seasons with the Marlins, Ozuna never played on a team that won even 80 games.
The key, Ozuna said, in making the leap from being a talented player to a budding star came in the offseason work he did leading into the year. He's following the same blueprint, one that former Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds helped craft, over the winter. The only difference this time is that the results will play out in front of a new audience. (J Langosch - MLB.com - Dec 15, 2017)
March 23, 2018: The baseball education of Marcell Ozuna began 20 years ago, through a television screen in the Dominican resort town of Boca Chica. That's where St. Louis' new slugger was raised, first on fishing and dominos, before learning to rake. That's where he first saw Vladimir Guerrero swing with gloveless hands at any pitch in sight. And where Marcell resolved, at the age of 8, to play baseball like Vlady did.
"He was my idol," Ozuna said.
No Cardinals player turns more young heads in 2018 than Ozuna, St. Louis' splashy offseason acquisition. St. Louis hasn't seen a slugger like him in years, and because its postseason pursuit hinges on perhaps no player more. He hits 468-foot homers and swats 113.4 mph singles (per Statcast). He hits good pitching. But he's also the club's player to watch because his swing drives as many balls out as the people his persona draws in.
"He's a loose guy and a fun guy with a positive attitude," says new teammate Bud Norris. Ozuna bounces with energy. He smiles and swaggers. He wears an arm sleeve neon enough to both bring out Cardinal red and clash against Chicago blue. Teammates call him "Big Bear," but he runs as fast as Andrew Benintendi, according to Statcast. Scouts say he swings like Jim Rice while cheesing like Francisco Lindor.
"He's the energizer bunny," said Royals assistant general manager Albert Gonzalez, who oversaw the Marlins' international scouting when Miami signed Ozuna as an amateur in 2008. "All he wants to do is play." Ozuna's personality never shuts off, and it helps him to cross social and industry fault lines in a seamless way. He pranks teammates in both English and Spanish. He jokes with reporters. He stands up to executives—and extends his arms.
"A lot of new players take a while to warm up to you," Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. "From Day One, he's hugging."
It's also made him the rare Dominican boy who grew up to find his heroes gravitating back to him. Ozuna talks hitting with Manny Ramirez. He pals around with David Ortiz. He was tutored by Barry Bonds, mentored by Pedro Martinez, managed by Don Mattingly, and bonded to the late Jose Fernandez, with whom he'll be irrevocably linked. (J Trezza - MLB.com - March 23, 2018)
March 23, 2018: Jose Fernandez invited Ozuna to join him on the seas that fateful night several years ago. They were best friends. "Brothers," Ozuna says. But Ozuna had relatives in town, and the Marlins an afternoon game the next day. Baseball and family took precedent, as they always have.
"I said, 'No,'" Ozuna remembers. "I have to go home." Fernandez's boat crashed in the darkness off Miami Beach, killing the Marlins' ace and two others, and sparking a chain of events that enveloped Ozuna and altered the trajectory of his life.
Harnessing the memory of Fernandez, the advice of Bonds ("he taught me how to be selective"), and Pedro's friendship, Ozuna conquered the consistency issues that plagued his first four big league seasons. He closed the holes in his swing and blossomed into one of the National League's most feared hitters, setting career highs in every offensive category and earning Silver Slugger and Gold Glove nods. Which is why the Cardinals pivoted—"instantly," according to Mozeliak—after learning Giancarlo Stanton wouldn't accept a trade to St. Louis. But the Cardinals certainly don't see him as a consolation prize.
"From a baseball standpoint," Mozeliak said. "He checked all the boxes." Under team control through 2019, the 27-year-old could power charge St. Louis' lineup for at least two more seasons at a team-friendly rate. The Cardinals had not had a hitter eclipse 35 homers since Albert Pujols.
"I'm working hard all the time, doing my best all the time," Ozuna said. "Now I'm here." "St. Louis is a perfect fit for the fans and for Marcell," Gonzalez said. "They're going to love him." (J Trezza - MLB.com - March 23, 2018)
June 25, 2018: Most hotels host guests who check in and check out. Not Milwaukee's famous Pfister Hotel. Sometimes their guests check in and never check out. That's right: The hotel is rumored to be filled with ghosts—kind of like a non-threatening Overlook Hotel. Often the first choice among big league teams when they come to town to play the Brewers, the hotel is known for its terrifying history of things that go bump in the night.
Clint Hurdle once comforted a Pirates player that was frightened while in the hotel. Ji-Man Choi experienced one of its many paranormal events while trying to sleep. Carlos Gomez heard voices when he got out of the shower.
The Cardinals, recently in town to play the Brewers over the weekend, were just the latest to confront the ethereal plane. Carlos Martinez posted a video Instagram on saying that he couldn't sleep in his room because of a free-floating, full-torso vaporous apparition. Same with Ozuna. So, the two of them—along with Tommy Pham and some Cardinals coaches—headed to Francisco Peña's room for comfort.
"We are here in Milwaukee," Martinez said in Spanish in the video. "I just saw a ghost. In Ozuna's room, he saw another one. We are all here. We are all in Peñita's [Francisco Pena] room. We are all stuck here. We are going to sleep together. If the ghost shows again, we are all going to fight together."
Not sure what Martinez's plan of attack was, but he may have wanted to contact Rockies pitcher Jon Gray, who hunts ghosts in his spare time. (Michael Clair and Javier Castellano - MLB.com @michaelsclair)
January 2019: Ozuna's health is key to the Cardinals outfield in 2019. Ozuna is coming off right shoulder surgery that limited his baseball activity this past 2018 winter. The Cardinals expect him to be a full go by Opening Day, though there is still rehab to complete. (Editor's note: Ozuna was on the IL for six weeks in the middle of the season. Still, the Cardinals made the playoffs.)
2020 Season: Ozuna was sensational at the plate turning in one of the best 60-game stretches of his career hitting .338/.431/.636 while leading the National League in homers (18) and RBI (56). His Statcast metrics were once again excellent as he finished in the top 6% in barrel percentage and the top 4% in average exit velocity. He posted an XWOBA of .417 and a straight WOBA of .437. As this graphic from Baseball Savant shows, you could not ask for much more.
Ozuna also did not have any trouble fitting into the clubhouse and served as a mentor and partner in crime for young players like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies.
What went wrong in 2020?
Honestly, not much. There were questions about Ozuna’s defense coming in and he spent the majority of the season serving as Atlanta’s DH. UZR (minus-2.7) and UZR/150 (minus-16.1) paint an ugly picture of Ozuna’s defense. He came in at minus-2 Defensive Runs Saved but was surprisingly just a minus-1 in Baseball Savant’s Outs Above Average in a small sample so maybe the defense wasn’t quite as bad as some made it out to be. Again, Ozuna was brought in before the DH was approved for the NL, so the Braves were going to live with his defense provided he hit. (Kris Willis@Kris_Willis - Oct 31, 2020)
TWO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES
Ozuna was the victim of domestic abuse, with his wife being arrested after a two-week investigation.
While these allegations appear against ballplayers, it is not often that we hear of a player being the victim of domestic abuse. That was the case with Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna, whose wife, Genesis, was arrested and charged with domestic battery.
Ozuna's wife, Genesis, was arrested after a police investigation and charged with domestic battery.
According to reports, Ozuna’s wife hit him with a soap dish, opening a small laceration on his face. Marcell then drove himself to report the incident. Following her arrest, Ozuna’s wife entered a not guilty plea and was given a stay-away order. (David Hill - June 6, 2020)
May 29-Nov 3, 2021: Ozuna has been arrested on domestic violence charges, per multiple reports. Ozuna has been charged with aggravated assault strangulation and misdemeanor battery — family violence. The charges are out of Sandy Springs, Georgia, and the records are reportedly from the Fulton County website.
Ozuna will almost certainly be immediately suspended by MLB, based on what has happened previously with such cases, and at first blush it would seem extremely unlikely that Ozuna will play again this season. Ozuna, in the first year of a four-year, $64 million deal signed this past offseason, had just been placed on the injured list due to two fractured fingers suffered when sliding. (Adam J. Morris)
Sept 10, 2021: Ozuna was placed on the restricted list.
Nov. 29, 2021: Ozuna was given a 20-game suspension that was retroactively handed down by Major League Baseball for his role in a domestic dispute with his wife, Genesis Guzman. The suspension includes the 20 games he missed from the time he was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 10 through the end of the regular season.
2021 Season: There was and is some squawking about Ozuna’s ability to play in the outfield without bleeding runs. The basis for that squawking has always seemed a little scant. While Ozuna only played about a third of a season in the outfield in 2021, the additional data once again failed to break on the side of “Ozuna’s outfield defense is a dramatic concern.”
In 411 innings, Ozuna posted +4 DRS, +0.8 UZR, +0 OAA with an actual success rate equal to his estimated success rate, +3.2 FRAA, +5 from Clay Davenport, etc. etc. His jump remained bad but not awful, and his OAA on anything harder than a Statcast “one-star” play was -1. Note that he even had +1 runs for his arm from DRS and -0.3 from UZR, so this wasn’t even a case of “few opportunities to throw prevented his defense from tanking.”
Ozuna’s sprint speed did fall pretty substantially from 2020 to 2021, as it also did from 2019 to 2020, which lines up to some extent with how we think about aging. Maybe 2022 will be the season when the squawking becomes justified by the numbers (since it seems reasonably likely that, preferences aside, he’ll get the opportunity to appear in uniform), but it hasn’t happened yet. (Ivan the Great - Jan 12, 2022)
Aug 19, 2022: Marcell was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. According to Gwinnett County jail records, Ozuna was booked at 4:39 a.m. ET and released at 8:12 a.m. Norcross Police arrested Ozuna after he allegedly failed to maintain his lane on Beaver Ruin Road.
"I disappointed my team and I disappointed my family,” Ozuna said. “I don’t have anything to say more. It’s a legal matter.”
The Braves issued the following statement: “The Atlanta Braves are aware of Marcell Ozuna’s arrest this morning and are still gathering all the facts pertaining to the incident. Our organization takes these matters very seriously and are obviously disappointed by the situation. As this is a legal matter, we will have no further comment until the process is complete.”
Ozuna has hit .214 with 20 homers and a .656 OPS in 107 games this year in 2022. He wasn’t needed during this week’s four-game Mets series, and there was already some doubt about whether he would factor into this year’s postseason plans. (M Bowman - MLB.com - Aug 19, 2022)
2022 Season: Ozuna’s downward spiral continued. After posting a pedestrian 102 wRC+ in his first 23 games, his offense cratered through his final 100 games, which garnered him an awful 89 wRC+ and .226/.274/.413, both a National League worst for qualified left fielders in 2022. Along with his recent legal issues off the field, Marcell Ozuna’s career is in hot water right now. (CHRISTOPHERPUTNAM04 - Dec 15, 2022)
January 2008: Marcell signed with the Marlins, via scout Sandy Nin.
2016: Ozuna had a one-year contract for $570,000.
Jan 13, 2017: Ozuna and the Marlins avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year contract for $3.5 million.
Dec. 13, 2017: The Marlins traded Ozuna to the Cardinals, acquiring outfielder Magneuris Sierra and two RHPs: Sandy Alcantara and Zac Gallen.
Jan 12, 2018: Ozuna and the Cards avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $9 million.
Jan 11, 2019: Ozuna and the Cards avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $12.2 million.
Oct 31, 2019: Ozuna chose free agency.
Jan. 21, 2020: The Braves signed Ozuna to a one-year deal for $18 million. Because Ozuna received a qualifying offer, the Cardinals will receive a compensation pick after Competitive Balance Round B (No. 71) and the Braves will forfeit their third-highest selection (No. 99) and $500,000 of international slot money.
Oct 28, 2020: Marcell elected free agency.
- Feb 5, 2021: The Braves announced Ozuna will return with a four-year, $64 million deal. It includes a club option for a fifth year at $16 million.