Skipper Redmond compares skills to Braves great Jones
By Andrew Simon
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, the Marlins' Marcell Ozuna might not look like an ideal Major League center fielder at first glance. But if you ask his manager, he looks a little bit like one of the best players ever to man the position.
"A lot of people, I don't know if they see him as a prototypical center fielder because of his body, his size, but this guy floats to the ball," said Mike Redmond, Miami's skipper for Ozuna's first two big league seasons. "He gets great jumps on balls going in and back and really makes a lot of plays look easy. Kind of reminds me a lot of Andruw Jones."
Jones, listed at a similar 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, played 17 seasons in the Majors and won 10 straight Gold Glove Awards for the Braves from 1998-2007. According to Baseball-Reference.com, he ranks in the Top 20 all-time in defensive wins above replacement, and first among center fielders in Total Zone runs since 1954.
In other words, any comparison to Jones' outfield prowess is high praise, and Ozuna has a long ways to go to put himself in that category. Still, the 24-year-old's early performance has been promising.
Ozuna played only 38 Minor League games in center field, compared with 399 in right, and he roughly split time between the two spots as a rookie in 2013. But he spent 140 games in center field last year and posted positive scores in advanced metrics such as Total Zone and Ultimate Zone Rating. His 10 Defensive Runs Saved tied him for ninth among all center fielders.
As Ozuna enters his second full season with the Marlins, as one-third of a talented young outfield, Redmond believes he has plenty of room to grow.
"He's still young," Redmond said. "He's still learning the game, learning pitchers, learning how to hit, learning himself. The key in the big leagues is to learn yourself as a player and what you can and can't do, and battle. You're always doing that. That'll last as long as he's playing. He's got a ton of talent, and I think we've all seen that over the last couple of years."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.