Pablo Ozuna: This 21-year-old is another
future star to come out of the Dominican Republic. The Cardinals signed
him in 1996 and he has been a standout ever since. Ozuna debuted in 1997
at Johnson City and batted .323 in 232 AB with 5 HR, 24 RBI, 13 doubles, 1
triple, 40 runs scored, 10 BB, 24 K and 23 steals in 28 attempts.
This 6-foot, 160-pound righthhanded hitter spent 1998 at Single-A
Peoria. Ozuna batted well over .300 again (.357) with 9 HR, 62 RBI, 27
doubles, 10 triples, 122 runs scored, 29 BB, 56 K and 62 steals (88
attempts) in 538 AB (133 games).
Ozuna was then a part of the Edgar Renteria deal to St. Louis. The
Marlins assigned him to Double-A Portland for the 1999 season, where he
went on to hit .281 (502 AB) with 7 HR, 46 RBI, 25 doubles, 7 triples, 62
runs scored, 13 BB, 50 K, and 31 steals. He held his own at this level,
but needs to improve his BB:K ratio before he starts in the big leagues.
The Marlins already have a very good group of young middle infielders
with Alex Gonzalez and Luis Castillo, but Ozuna has just as much talent as
either of them. Ozuna should start 2000 in Triple-A. However, because the
Marlins are now teaching him to play second base, it is possible that he
could go back to the Eastern League to begin the upcoming season.
By the time the upcoming season ends, I think he will be on the verge
of being an everyday player and future star in the majors. Florida will
then need to make a decision on what to do with one of these three young,