It really isn’t completely out of the ordinary for a 22 year old to just be starting out their career in any field. But Cuban defector Yasiel Puig has been anything but ordinary in his first week in the Majors. After leaving Cuba, the right fielder obtained his work visa, and wasted little time getting signed to a hefty 7 year/42 million dollar contract by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite this large contract, prior to the 2013 season, he was only rated as the #47 overall prospect in baseball by Baseball America. Clearly that didn’t matter to the young budding star, as he is taking the MLB by storm in his first taste of the big leagues. Here is a look at his first 5 career games, which has been invading every major sports network.
Puig makes his highly anticipated debut against the Padres in right field, batting lead off…in his first career game. He instantly proved that that idea was a genius one, getting a hit in his first MLB at-bat. He would continue to collect another hit, finishing his day going 2-4. But his biggest play came in the top of the 9th inning with the Dodgers leading 2-1. With 1 out and Chris Denorfia on first, Kyle Blanks slugged one deep to the warning track in right field. Puig camped under it, and in what looked to be so effortless he unleashed a Bo-Jackson-esque cannon throw to first base, trying to catch Denorfia who was sprinting back to first base. The throw was a perfect strike to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, just beating the runner, giving the Dodgers the win.
Yasiel would once again bat lead off and man right field. Naturally, he one-upped his intro to the last game by hitting a lead off double in his first at bat. Then with the Dodgers trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the 5th inning, with two runners on, he flexed his clutch muscle by stroking a game tying 3 run homer. As if that wasn’t enough, after Luis Cruz drove in the go ahead run in the following inning, Puig showed his flair for the dramatics by launching a 2 run homer, giving him 2 HR and 5 RBIs on the day. Dodgers win 9-7.
The rookie would come back down to earth, as veteran Jason Marquis and the Padres bullpen held the Dodgers to only 5 hits. The phenom would go 0-4 with 2 strikeouts as the Dodgers drop the game, 6-2.
As the Dodgers wrapped up the series with the lowly Padres, Puig faced a much bigger test in the upcoming series against the first place Braves. But once again, he did not fail to impress. As he did in his first two games, he led off the 1st inning with a single, but would eventually be doubled off by a Gonzalez line drive to first base. His next two at bats would prove to be ineffective, failing to get on base both times. But with the Dodgers clinging on to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning, Mr. Dramatic stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. Right on cue, he smoked a grad slam into the left field bleachers, sending the Chavez Ravine faithful into a frenzy, prompting Puig to a curtain call. Dodgers take another one, 5-0.
Another day, another big hit for the Dodgers right fielder. Like clockwork, Puig came to the plate with Los Angeles trailing Atlanta 1-0 in the bottom of the 6th. Promptly, Puig laced a solo homerun to tie the game, making him the 3rd player to ever have 4 HR an 10 RBI in his first 5 career games. Then in a huge sign of fear and respect with the winning run on 3rd base and 2 outs in the 8th, the Braves intentionally walked the streaking star. The next batter would fly out, but the LA blue would pull the win out in the 10th inning.
Just when you thought that Puig couldn’t duplicate his clutch performances, he continued to surprise and impress while showing no fear. Beware of the ManBearPuig, coming to a stadium near you.
- Yasiel Puig Continues Hot Streak With 4th HR in 5 Career Major-League Games (bleacherreport.com)
- Puig’s splash leaves positive wake in LA clubhouse (mlb.mlb.com)
- Puig homer ties game, Dodgers win in 10th (scores.espn.go.com)