After spending the beginning of this season at Double-A Chattanooga, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig will bring his combination of power, speed and advanced hitting ability to the parent club.
Injuries have provided opportunity. With Matt Kemp on the disabled list, the Dodgers have promoted Puig. He will have his chance to showcase his talent on baseball's biggest stage. The Dodgers will be able to see if he can hit big league pitching. Fans will get to witness a player with game-changing charisma and talent.
I scouted Puig when he owned Spring Training at the Dodgers' Camelback Ranch facility. His home runs became legendary. I saw speed on the bases that is reserved for much smaller men.
After word spread about Puig's prowess, fans came simply to watch him play. He brought a hush to the crowd when he came to the plate. The concession stands had to wait. Puig was the story of spring. And with good reason.
Yasiel Puig is one of three Cuban players that will each have a major impact on the game. Along with Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes and the Cubs' Jorge Soler, Puig represents powerful and polished products of Cuban baseball. Each has star qualities. Maybe even more than that.
Puig played in 40 games for Chattanooga, hitting .313 in 167 plate appearances. A sprained thumb caused him to miss some time earlier in the season. He had eight home runs while driving in 37 runs. The most intriguing statistic? He had three triples. Puig is 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds and he had three triples. That's saying something.
The ball makes that special sound coming off his bat. Something like an entire forest of trees cracking and falling at the same time. And yes, I was there to hear it.
What I found most compelling about Puig was his ability to use the center of the field as his massive playground. He can center a pitch with amazingly quick wrists and hands through the ball.
His eye-hand coordination is extremely sharp and well developed. He allows the ball to travel before he commits his swing. And his swing is special as well. He isn't violent. He can get a bit aggressive, but he's more measured than excessive.
Pitchers will challenge him with breaking balls. They will be more advanced and more frequent than he has seen in Double-A. But like Cespedes, he will adjust. It may take a bit of time, but he'll adjust.
The right-handed-hitting Puig will bring excitement every time he steps in the batter's box.
There's something special about watching such a strong, well-conditioned athlete clobber the ball to the deepest part of the field and fly around the bases with unexpected speed and grace. That attraction is now playing in Los Angeles.