W2W4 June 3, 2013 – The Debut of Cuban Sensation Yasiel Puig

SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 20:  Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers waits on deck during the game against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium on March 20, 2013 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers – 10:15 p.m. (ET)

Given his Spring Training and minor league success, it really was only a matter of time before the Dodgers called up their prized prospect, Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig. They just didn’t think it would have to be this soon.

Los Angeles broke camp with what appeared to be a loaded outfield featuring Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. It did not appear that there would be sufficient at bats to go around to justify adding Puig, who is still adjusting to American baseball, to the big league roster. Injuries and underperformance has forced the organization’s hand.

Kemp is currently on the disabled list and Crawford is nursing a hamstring injury. One-third of the way through the season, Ethier is not having the success that he or the Dodgers had anticipated, batting just .240 with four home runs and 15 RBIs.

Sitting in last place in the NL West and in need of both a spark and outfield help, Los Angeles made the announcement Sunday that they were calling the 6’3′, 215 pounder up to the show. He’s capable of playing all three outfield positions and is regarded as a four-tool player (he can hit for average and power, has a good glove and a powerful arm). The Cuban outfielder’s debut is as hyped as any I’ve seen since that of Nationals dynamo Bryce Harper, and some analysts think his impact on the Dodgers could be just as big.

Puig defected from Cuba in 2012, and shortly thereafter L.A. paid him $42 million over a seven-year contract – figures that many around the majors thought far exceeded market value.

Upon his signing Puig immediately became the organization’s top prospect. It will take a lot to live up to the dollars he’s been paid, but thus far, all signs point to Puig being potentially worth every penny.

In the Cuban National Series in 2010-11, Puig batted .330 with 17 home runs and 47 RBIs while getting on base 43% of his official at bats, of which he had 327.

In Spring Training, he batted .517 through 27 games (58 at-bats), racking up five doubles, two triples and three home runs while driving in 11.

Through 147 at-bats at Double-A Chatanooga this year, Puig is hitting .313 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs, playing half of his games at a home ballpark that is not very hitter friendly.

One thing is for sure, Puig is interesting to watch. The center fielder is a free swinger; in 58 Spring Training at bats, Puig did not have a single walk. The numbers indicate that he swings a lot, and that most of the time when he does good things happen. His first major league swings come tonight, and in SAD’s opinion are an absolute must watch.

Don’t believe us? Here are some highlights of Puig from Spring Training.

About Matthew George

Matthew George graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2008 with a bachelor of science in journalism. He spent three years writing sports for the Kentucky Kernel, the university's daily paper, and served as assistant sports editor. After undergrad, Matthew attended Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University where he earned his juris doctorate. He is now admitted to practice law in Kentucky and Indiana.

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