With Marcell Ozuna possibly playing his last game as a member of the Atlanta Braves due to domestic violence issues, this is how the team can begin to replace his presence in the lineup.
As if the start of the 2021 MLB season couldn’t get any worse for the Braves, the search for Marcell Ozuna’s long-term replacement will be a difficult one.
The team sits in second place in the NL East behind the division-leading New York Mets. Although it’s early, players and fans alike are getting anxious for the team to get on a winning streak. But due to Ozuna’s recent hand injury and now domestic violence charges, he may not return to the lineup at all as his contract could be voided.
Here are three potential in-house replacements for Ozuna that can help the Braves without making a big trade.
1. Ender Inciarte
Ender Inciarte is my number one pick to fill in for Ozuna. Inciarte has been around the league for years playing different outfield positions and offers speed, a solid glove and an average to above-average bat. Obviously, he doesn’t have the power that Ozuna can provide a lineup, but Inciarte offers a great contact hitting bat that can do all of the little things the Braves need right now as they fight their way back into the NL East race. Inciarte is currently hitting .235 in 20 games for the Braves, but with more regular at bats could start to bring that average up.
2. Drew Waters
Drew Waters is one of the more intriguing prospects in the Braves minor league system. A highly-rated prospect, Waters is currently hitting .253 in AAA with just three home runs and four doubles in 20 games. Despite a slow start to the 2021 season, Waters has a .295 average over his three minor league seasons.
The knock on the 22-year-old Waters during his short minor league career is his high strikeout rate. He already has 26 strikeouts in 2021 and whiffed 164 times in 2019. Waters may be the most intriguing player to fill in for Ozuna during the 2021 season due to his high ceiling and youth, but a mid-season call-up may also be a risky one that could hinder his development as he has played less than 50 games at the AAA level. Tread lightly Braves fans.
3. Abraham Almonte
Abraham Almonte made his Braves debut this weekend after bouncing around the major and minor leagues the past few seasons. The 31-year-old veteran outfielder hit .403 in 19 games at the AAA level this season after not making the Braves major league roster to start the 2021 season. Although he has bounced around the MLB over his career, Almonte has shown promising pop and a solid outfield glove that could be a solid everyday addition to the Braves lineup for now.