Bill Hass on Hoppers Baseball:Marcell Ozuna showing raw power…

from Bill Hass at Bill on Baseball at

Sometimes the best thing to do when a hitter is in a slump is just leave him alone.

Marcell Ozuna of the Greensboro Grasshoppers, one of the most touted players in the South Atlantic League, began the season with three hits in his first 30 at-bats. Instead of besieging him with advice or tampering with his swing, the coaching staff let him figure things out.

“Just keep running him out there and let him get his at-bats,” said hitting coach Kevin Randel.

The only things manager Andy Haines offered Ozuna were words of encouragement.

Ozuna went 0-for-3 in the Hoppers’ home opener Friday night against Delmarva, but he crushed one ball to deep center that was caught on the warning track. That served to be a warning sign to the Shorebirds – over the next three games he went 8-for-12 with four home runs, seven RBIs and eight runs scored. He added two more hits Tuesday night against Rome and is now 10-for-16 in his last four games.

“The first few games he was chasing balls out of the (strike) zone,” Haines said. “Then he had a couple of games with a good approach. Contact rate is a big thing for him. He can hit the ball out anywhere in the park. He’s just got to be able to do it every day.”

Only 20 years old, Ozuna has a powerful build and raw power. He hit 21 homers in 68 games with Jamestown last season. He reminds me, in some ways, of another powerfully-built young player from years ago, Wily Mo Pena, who played for the Greensboro Bats in 2000. Pena was 18 years old and just learning. In 67 games he hit 10 homers but struck out 91 times.

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