Well, I guess you can put those Puig alert sirens away, for now. I hate to be the one to rain on anyone’s parade, but rookie Cuban Phenom Yasiel Puig will start the 2013 season in the minors. The Dodgers and manager Don Mattingly confirmed this today, via a statement. The Dodgers signed the Cuban import to a mega contract worth 42 million dollars last summer. It looks like we will not be seeing any Puig alerts at Chavez Ravine this season. At least for now that is.
Puig has been tearing it up during spring training for weeks now. This has led to a lot of speculation that he might actually have a shot to make the opening day roster. The speculation has hit an all time high recently, especially with the status of left fielder Car Crawford doubtful for opening day, as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.
Manager Don Mattingly confirmed that Puig will indeed start the season in the minors for the Dodgers.
Mattingly said “If he’s ready, he’ll dominate down there. He’ll let us know”.
Mattingly also when on to further comment…”No, it’s not the best thing for him,” Mattingly said. “He won’t want to hear that. He’s been good, but we’ve seen a lot of things that tell us he’s still young and needs work. The guys tell you when they’re ready. When he’s ready, he’ll tear it up [in the Minors.] If he doesn’t, he’s not quite ready.”
I somewhat agree with this. The Dodgers have to do what ‘s right for Puig’s development. Right now, the best thing for him is to go down somewhere where he can get playing time every day, and continue to learn and grow. It’s getting harder and harder each day to justify sending Puig down to the minors because he has been raking it against the rest of the Cactus league. Puig is batting .424 (14 for 33) this spring with one home run, 6 RBI, but no walks, and ten whiffs in 34 plate appearances. Will his plate discipline or lack there of be a concern going forward?
Puig has looked just as good in the field as he has at the plate despite his lack of plate patience. Many people consider him a five tool player, who can hit, hit for power, run, throw and field. He certainly has been impressing everyone thus far.
However, just because he has been hitting well against Cactus league opposition, doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be able to hit major league pitching. Remember, Puig is still pretty raw, and considered an unknown talent. Better to start him in the minors, and if he starts raking it, like Mattingly said, then we can go from there. If he keeps on hitting like this, then he should be up in the majors soon enough.
There have been a lot of people clamoring for the Dodgers to start Puig in left field on opening day until Crawford is ready to rejoin the team. The Dodgers will not be doing this. Plus the team has plenty of outfield options anyways. We expect for the Dodgers to platoon Jerry Hairston, and Skip Schumaker in left field until Crawford is ready to play. The Dodgers also have guys like Alex Castellanos, and Tony Gywnn Jr. who are fighting for a roster spot along side Puig as well.
I know Puig looks great, but I must remind everyone how meaningless spring training stats, and games are. Just because Puig looks great in spring training, doesn’t mean anything. Remember, I have seen a lot of Dodger prospects look great in spring training, and then suck at the big league level.
In the meantime, it’s nice to know we have an exciting and promising prospect in Puig waiting in the wings in the minors. When Puig is ready, he will let us know with his bat. And hey if there are any more injuries then you never know. Until then, the Dodgers are not going to rush Puig along. I agree it is the correct decision here. What do you guys think? Are the Dodgers doing the right thing with Puig?
I am assuming it won’t be long until the big 22 year old right hander is bashing his way onto the major league roster. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to many Puig alerts in the Dodger’s future. We’ll have to put away the Puig alert sirens, for now anyways.