The Los Angeles Dodgers had been long awaiting the arrival of one super-prospect, 22-year-old Cuban defector Yasiel Puig. The organization finally had no other choice but to call up Puig on Monday night against the San Diego Padres, with most of the team on the disabled list these days.
Whether this move should’ve happened sooner or not, the wait to see the phenom outfielder in a Dodger uniform was finally over.
Puig delivered a major league debut that’ll be talked about for years down the road, and it wasn’t because of his bat as most people would’ve expected, after he hit over .500 in spring training for the Dodgers. Despite going for 2-4 with two singles in his debut, the big right arm of Puig’s was getting all the attention after Monday night’s game.
The Dodgers had a 2-1 lead over the Padres in the top of the ninth inning, and then the “Cuban missile” known as Puig’s right arm happened. He gathered himself underneath a fly ball at the warning track to make out number two with a runner on first, after making the catch at the track he fired an absolute perfect strike to first and doubled up Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia, ballgame. (This walk-off double play was way cooler than most walk-off home runs I’ve seen this season).
What would Puig do for an encore on Tuesday night?
He only went 3-4 with two home runs, five RBIs, two runs, while leading the Dodgers to a 9-7 win over the Padres.
The Dodgers have found the answer they’ve been looking for, and the National League West is still in definite striking distance with plenty of baseball left to play. Last season, remember when the “Anaheim” Angels started 6-14 and then called up the eventual 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout? Everything instantly turned around for the Angels. Trout’s impact alone lifted the Angels back into playoff contention for the rest of the season, only to come up short in the competitive American League West.
It’s not a stretch to say Puig could have that same impact on this Dodgers team, bringing almost the same dynamic style of play to the diamond as Trout. He probably won’t have the year Trout had last season, but that’s tough for anyone to accomplish. However, not one team is running away with the NL West anytime soon, so Puig’s impact could put the Dodgers right back into the division race in just a couple of weeks.
Puig and company look like they’ll be able to hold down the fort until Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and AJ Ellis return from the DL, which would give the Dodgers time to discuss possibly trading Andre Ethier to make Puig the everyday right fielder in Los Angeles.
Manager Don Mattingly has found the missing piece to the puzzle in Puig, and once the rest of his players get healthy he’ll finally get to piece this whole thing together. The Dodgers might have called up Puig just in time and his impact could take this team in the direction they’ve been destined for all season.