There is no shortage of depth at any position on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 40-man roster at the start of this season. How else could you explain a 22-year old prospect that hit .526 with three home runs and 11 RBI’s this spring being sent down to the minor leagues? And not even to Triple-A, the kid was sent all the way down to Double-A Chattanooga.
Such is the beginning of the 2012 season for Yasiel Puig, the raw, but talented future star outfielder from Cuba. If there is any consolation for the young slugger, its that he should feast on Double-A pitching and keep his numbers right at eye level for the Dodgers’ brass to get a daily reminder that he’s down there. That probably won’t be necessary, however, chances are they‘ll be watching him already.
Last season the Washington Nationals called up outfielder Bryce Harper from Triple-A Syracuse on April 27. The call-up was ahead of schedule, but Ryan Zimmerman went out with an injury and Harper’s .325 OBP, .365 SLG and high ceiling got him the call.
The Los Angeles Angels, who got off to a lousy start offensively, called up spark plug Mike Trout on April 28. Bobby Abreu was struggling and Trout’s numbers were gaudy at Triple-A Salt Lake. Anaheim benefited immediately from the rookie’s .403 AVG and .623 SLG.
This spring, Puig put up some scary numbers in the Cactus League. The mothership optioned him to Chattanooga on March 26, obviously to keep him sharp instead of riding the pine and collecting only pinch hits in Hollywood. But how patient will the Dodgers be if any of their big sticks can’t get going right away?
The Cuban prospect, who only turned 22 in December, hit .526 with three HR and 11 RBI while keeping a sickening .842 SLG this past month. Will the Dodgers be able to resist calling Puig’s cell phone earlier than Harper or Trout got their calls last season? The numbers are certainly comparable, if not better, than last season’s NL and AL Rookies of the Year, and the Dodgers have never shied away from making eyebrow-raising moves.
L.A. should be in position not to have to call young Puig before he is ready. They have plenty of potential firepower and ticket sellers on their team. After watching what Harper and Trout accomplished last year though, it will be hard for GM Ned Colletti and his front office army to resist dialing Puig’s cell phone at the first sign of offensive trouble.