Yasiel Puig, Moving On Up


Less than two weeks ago, I posted video of Yasiel Puig‘s first game in the Arizona league, noting that the fact that he went 0-4 in the game mattered far less than that after so long away from the field, he was getting playing time against live pitching. That 0-4, as it turned out, was the only time he would go hitless in his short stint in rookie ball; he would get at least one hit in each of his next eight games to sit at a .400/.500/1.000 line, including four homers and three triples.

Still, the competition there is clearly inferior and made up of guys you have never and most likely will never hear of, so I was hesitant to join in calls that the Dodgers were “foolish” to have him still playing there, given that it was only a week’s worth of games after such a long layoff, and none of us can pretend to know what it’s like for him to acclimate off the field from Cuba to America.

That said, Puig hadn’t played since last Thursday, fueling rumors of a promotion, and while nothing is yet official we may have found our answer last night:

This isn’t just some fan in the crowd, by the way; this information is coming from Spike Lundberg, who pitched professionally for parts of twelve seasons, including 2006-07 in the Dodger organization. (At 29 in 2006, he went 15-2, 2.27 for a Jacksonville team that included past and present Dodgers like Matt Kemp, A.J. Ellis, Andy LaRoche, Blake DeWitt, Scott Elbert, & Joel Hanrahan.) Since last pitching in 2009, Lundberg has been working as an agent for Scott Boras, and so I’m inclined to believe this report even in the absence of an official confirmation.

If true, it’s a good sign for how the Dodgers view his development, and it also makes the Quakes a pretty interesting team to watch, given that they also have Joc Pederson, Angelo Songco, Bobby Coyle, Jonathan Garcia, Garrett Gould, and Brandon Martinez. If his time in Rancho goes well – and I hope I don’t need to tell you that the California League is nearly as pinball as the Pacific Coast League is – people are going to start wondering about his timeline to the bigs.

It should be noted that the season in the minors does not extend as long as the big-league year, so the regular season for the Quakes (along with the AAA Isotopes & AA Lookouts) runs only through September 3, three weeks from today. The Quakes are in last place and are unlikely to extend their season with a playoff run, but both Chattanooga & Albuquerque sit in first place as of today, meaning it’s likely that at least one of those teams continues playing in September. If Puig struggles in Rancho, then a promotion probably isn’t even an option; if he doesn’t, and the goal is simply to continue to get him plate appearances, then it’s not out of the question for him to see some time with either of those clubs even if playing at those levels at this point wasn’t part of the original plan.

And what of the bigs? I’m already getting questions on a regular basis about whether we’ll see Puig with the Dodgers this year, given their ongoing offensive difficulties, and while I understand the enthusiasm, I absolutely cannot see a scenario in which he goes from nine rookie league games to Rancho to getting at-bats in Los Angeles within a month, especially after his missed time. It just doesn’t happen, and though it’s fun to think about, it shouldn’t happen, at least not in terms of his development process. I suppose, given his position on the 40-man, that he could potentially join the team after the minor league year is done just to soak in the atmosphere and allow the big-league staff to get a closer look at him, but I just can’t see him in games in 2012.

Going forward, however, his performance over the next few weeks could play heavily into the Dodger plans this offseason. While I think it’s a bit optimistic to expect Puig to contend for a starting job on Opening Day of 2013, it’s not unrealistic to think we could see him later in the season and hope that he could be ready for 2014. That being the case, along with the fact that the Dodgers already have Kemp & Andre Ethier signed to long-term deals in the outfield, the team may prefer to look for short-term patches in left field rather than jump into the lengthy, expensive games of trying to sign Michael Bourn or Josh Hamilton, or the terrifying thought of giving Shane Victorino the long-term deal he so clearly wants. (A popular fan idea is to move Ethier to first base at some point, and while I’m not strictly against that, it’s also not something I’ve seen reported as a possibility anywhere else than on message boards, and so it shouldn’t be thought of as an option right now.)

Still, that’s all getting ahead of ourselves, because as I’ve said, nine rookie league games. For now, let’s be pleased that Puig has been so impressive so quickly, and look forward to seeing what he can do on a real team against real competition.

282 comments
djMEGATONE
djMEGATONE

I work in Rancho and stopped by the game after work, i was way curious to see if the Puig rumors were true and they were. 

Puig is strong, very strong! the ball just lazers off of his bat no ground ball is gonna be an easy on in single A, in my opinion he has a little bit of weight to shred but damn can he run for his size. very excited to see him at full potential. 

 

Thinkblue55
Thinkblue55

It's confirmed. Puig will start with the Quakes tomorrow (Tuesday). He was at the gane Sunday and Coletti was there Saturday night. Saw both men with myvusn eyes.

Weston Taylor
Weston Taylor

Buster Olney, on the top 5 most dangerous teams in the league:

 

"4. San Francisco Giants: Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner are capable of winning a short series by themselves, and Buster Posey has been baseball's best position player in the second half."

seanbro
seanbro

Quakes Thirsty Thursday $2 beers + Puig was an easy sell to my Cuban family in-law. Looking forward to seeing this mythical beast play in person.

DBrim
DBrim moderator

RIP Johnny Pesky.

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

Adam Kennedy starting tonight. Um, yay?

Dang88
Dang88

 @seanbro I heard he was in Rancho in 5 minutes you know because he can fly

KirkDavenport
KirkDavenport

 @Mike Petriello kind of shoots holes in the Keith Law projections that Puig would have to go to "A" ball next year and that he should not be expected in MLB in 3 years or so. Law also said his speed was over-rated. Where is Law's opinion now?

Anyone every think of trying Puig at 1B? (he may not have the flexibilty to handle that well enough though - however, it would be his best shot to come up quickest I would think.  Mark Trumbo had a big year at Rancho at  1B (obviously when it was an Angel affiliate), a year at AA and then to AAA with a Sept. call up - and for good despite not being such a good fielder.

KirkDavenport
KirkDavenport

 @DBrim One of the great hitters whose service in the military deprived them of critical years on the field. Great hitter, great name, great coach

EephusBlue
EephusBlue moderator

 @Mike Petriello Sweet Jesus! I always seem to miss that. I think my mind edits out his name from the line up.

Gilbert_Vengeance
Gilbert_Vengeance

@el serracho @phattonez7 Whoa... This guy is out there.. Maybe that ball that bounced off his head for a home run the cause of this?

JoeyE
JoeyE

 @MFYG  @JohnM im so glad we traded for Brandon League!!!! too bad Ned couldnt trade for MOAR RELIEVERS 

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

 @phattonez7  @JohnM  @MFYG RT @BiertempfelTrib: #Pirates change rotation: AJ Burnett will start Thurs v #Dodgers, J-Mac will start Fri @ #Cardinals

MFYG (MSTY Dankest Brog 2013)
MFYG (MSTY Dankest Brog 2013)

 @JohnM

 dodgers had scott podsednik and ryan theriot were about to make a deep playoff run they HAD to get a veteran reliever for the stretch run ned colletti GM FOR LIFE