NEW YORK -- Before delivering his awe-inspiring home run and collecting an RBI single in the Marlins' 8-1 win over the Mets on Saturday night, Marcell Ozuna relayed a story about a conversation he had with David Ortiz in Spring Training of 2015.The two are from the Dominican Republic and
NEW YORK -- Before delivering his awe-inspiring home run and collecting an RBI single in the Marlins' 8-1 win over the Mets on Saturday night, Marcell Ozuna relayed a story about a conversation he had with David Ortiz in Spring Training of 2015.
The two are from the Dominican Republic and have known each other a long time. Back in '15, as Ozuna was entering his third MLB season, he received some encouraging words of support from Big Papi.
"He said, 'Homeboy, it's just starting for you now,' " Ozuna recalled. " 'Don't worry, you're going to be great at the end. You're a good talent. You can make a lot of money in this game.'"
Along with being an iconic player with the Red Sox before retiring last year, Ortiz also has an eye for talent. Big Papi saw star power in Ozuna, and the Miami left fielder continues to impress.
"In the Dominican, Big Papi is the man," Ozuna said. "The guy is humble. He tries to help everybody, and he had a great career."
Ozuna blasted a home run to lead off the second inning against right-hander Robert Gsellman. Per Statcast™, the drive projected at 437 feet with an exit velocity of 111 mph and a launch angle of 27 degrees.
"This guy can really hit," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "If he stays in his game, and doesn't get wild, and swings at strikes, he can really hit."
Ozuna's drive in the second inning is the Marlins' hardest-hit home run of the season, and his fourth highest home run reading since Statcast™ launched in 2015. His personal high is 447 feet with an exit velocity of 113.8 mph, set on May 29, 2016.
"Ozo looks really good," said Giancarlo Stanton, who had a single tracked at 112.1 mph on Saturday, the hardest struck ball of the season for any Marlin.
In 2016, Ozuna was a first-time All-Star and he finished with 23 homers and 76 RBIs. He's off to a hot start, batting .429 with a homer and six RBIs in five games.
His home run set the tone early for the Marlins, and Ozuna's RBI single to right field in the seventh inning tacked on an insurance run, giving Miami a 4-1 advantage.
"I thought he looked good in Spring Training," Mattingly said. "He's more consistent. His approach has stayed solid. Obviously, the home run was big, but then later on he gets a big hit into right field."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.