Yasiel Puig

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This article is about the baseball player. For other uses, see Puig (disambiguation).
This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Puig and the second or maternal family name is Valdés.
Yasiel Puig
Yasiel Puig 2.jpg
Yasiel Puig with the Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers – No. 66
Center fielder
Born: (1990-12-07) December 7, 1990 (age 23)
Cienfuegos, Cuba
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
June 3, 2013 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Career statistics
(through July 14, 2014)
Batting average .314
Hits 228
Home runs 31
Runs batted in 94
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Yasiel Puig
Medal record
Men's Baseball
Competitor for  Cuba
World Junior Baseball Championship
Bronze 2008 Edmonton Team

Yasiel Puig Valdés (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpwiɣ]; born December 7, 1990) is a Cuban professional baseball outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Puig played for the Cuban national baseball team in the 2008 World Junior Baseball Championship, winning a bronze medal. He defected from Cuba in 2012, and signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Dodgers. He made his MLB debut on June 3, 2013. In 2013, Puig hit .319 in 104 games with 19 home runs, and was selected by Baseball America to their annual "All-Rookie team".

Cuban career[edit]

Puig played for the Cuban national baseball team in the 2008 World Junior Baseball Championship, winning a bronze medal. He then played for the Cienfuegos team of the Cuban National Series in the 2008–09 Cuban National Series. He batted .276 with five home runs in his debut season. Puig enjoyed a breakout season in the 2009-10 Cuban National Series, with a .330 batting average, 17 home runs, 47 runs batted in (RBIs) and 78 runs scored in 327 at-bats.[1][2] Puig also played for the Cuban national team in the 2011 World Port Tournament where he tried to defect along with teammate Gerardo Concepcion. Concepcion was successful while Puig was not and was disciplined by not being allowed to play during the 2011–12 seasons.[3]

Defection from Cuba to Mexico[edit]

Since 2011, he tried to defect to Mexico five times, in order to become a legal resident so he could become eligible to sign a contract in Major League Baseball.[1] He was taken to Mexico by the Los Zetas, a murderous Mexican drug cartel involved in cocaine and smuggling. At least two were fugitives.[4] The first time, the police pulled over Despaigne’s car. The second time, the boat failed to arrive. The third time, police raided their safe house and detained them for six days. On the fourth try, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant intercepted their boat near Haiti. The fifth time, he went with three companions: a boxer, a pinup girl, and a Santeria priest.

They[who?] tried to sell Puig for $250,000 to Floridian Raul Pacheco, the 29-year-old president of Miami-based T&P Metal and PY Recycling. After Puig would sign an MLB contract, he would owe 20% to Pacheco.[5] Pacheco was arrested in 2009 for attempted burglary after asking a friend to help him remove an air-conditioning unit. He told police “I have stolen from these people in the past.” He was arrested in 2010 for using a fake Bank of America credit card to buy $150 worth of beer. Police found four other fraudulent credit cards and a fake ID card. He was sentenced to two years’ probation. In addition, they also offered him to Los Angeles-based agent Gus Dominguez, starting at $175,000. They also offered him to New York-based agent Joe Kehoskie, starting at $250,000. “Nobody’s going to Cuba and bringing out a guy like Yasiel Puig,” Kehoskie said, “and just handing him over to an agent out of the goodness of their heart.”

A month later, the captain of the smuggling boat, Yandrys León, was found dead in Cancun.[6] León was called “one of the most important capos of the Cuban-American mafia” by the United Press International. Cuban boxer Miguel Angel Corbacho Daudinot was sentenced to seven years in prison after Puig testified against him. He filed a federal lawsuit against Puig last year, claiming that Puig violated the Torture Victim Protection Act. He is suing Puig for $12 million.[7]

According to court records, Puig has paid Pacheco over $1.3 million. He also paid $400,000 to $500,000 to Alberto Fariñas, the 49-year-old vice president of Pacheco’s T&P Metal company, and $600,000 to Marcos Gonzalez, a Miami lawyer. He also paid an undisclosed amount to Gilberto Suarez, founder of a start-up company called Miami Sport Management.[8]

American career[edit]

Puig with Juan Uribe.

Minor leagues[edit]

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Puig on June 28, 2012, to a seven-year deal worth $42 million.[9] The Dodgers placed him on the 40-man roster and assigned him to their Arizona Rookie League team. In nine games, he hit .400 with four homers and 11 RBI.

On August 13, 2012, the Dodgers promoted Puig to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the Class A-Advanced California League.[10] He played in 14 games with the Quakes and hit .327. After the Quakes season, he was scheduled to join the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League, but a staph infection in his right elbow required surgery and sidelined him for several months. After the infection healed, he opted to play winter ball in Puerto Rico to keep his development on schedule.[11]

Puig had a very strong spring training with the Dodgers in 2013, hitting .526 in Cactus League games and having some in the press speculate that he might break camp with the Dodgers. However, he was optioned to the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Class AA Southern League just prior to the end of spring training.[12] He hit .313 with 8 homers and 37 RBI for the Lookouts in 40 games.

Major Leagues[edit]

2013[edit]

Puig in the Dodger Stadium outfield.

On June 2, 2013, the Dodgers announced that they had recalled Puig from Chattanooga and he made his debut on June 3.[13] In his first at-bat he singled to left-center off Eric Stults of the San Diego Padres. He was 2 for 4 in the game and showcased his strong arm by recording an outfield assist on a double play to end the game.[14]

Puig hit two home runs, doubled and drove in five runs in his second game. He became the first Dodger ever to have a multi-homer game in one of his first two appearances. The first home run was off Padres pitcher Clayton Richard.[15] In his fourth game, on June 6, 2013, he hit a grand slam off of Cory Gearrin of the Atlanta Braves.[16] The following day, Puig hit another homer to become only the 2nd player in the modern era (Mike Jacobs in 2005 was the other) to hit four home runs in his first five games and his 10 RBI tied the Major League record for most RBI in the first five games of a career (with Danny Espinosa (2010) and Jack Merson (1951)).[17] Puig was named the National League Player of the Week for the week of June 3–9.[18]

Puig had 27 hits in his first 15 games, tied with Joe DiMaggio (1936) and Terry Pendleton (1984) for second most all-time behind Irv Waldron (1901) and Bo Hart (2003) with 28.[19] He also became the first player in major league history to record at least 34 hits and seven home runs in his first 20 games and set Dodger records for most hits through 20 games (one more than Gibby Brack in 1937) and total bases through 20 games (58, four more than Del Bissonette in 1928).[20] Puig finished the month of June with 44 hits, breaking Steve Sax's 1983 team record for most hits by a rookie in one month. That total was also second all-time for rookies in their first month, behind only DiMaggio who had 48.[21] In 26 games in June, Puig hit .436 with a .467 on-base percentage and a .713 slugging percentage. He won both the National League Rookie of the Month Award and the National League Player of the Month Award, the first time someone had won both in their first month in the Majors.[22]

Despite his not making his debut until June, Puig received 842,915 write-in votes from the fans for the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. His name was included among the All-Star Final Vote candidates.[23] Puig received 15.5 million votes, second to Atlanta Braves' first baseman Freddie Freeman who received 19.7 million.[24][25]

In 2013, Puig hit .319 in 104 games with 19 home runs and 42 RBIs. He was selected by Baseball America to their annual "All-Rookie team"[26] and finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting to fellow Cuban José Fernández.[27]

2014[edit]

On May 17, 2014, Puig had his eighth consecutive game with at least one extra-base hit and at least one RBI, which was a new record for the longest streak by a Dodger, surpassing the marks of Pedro Guerrero (1985), Duke Snider (1954) and Howie Schultz (1944).[28] He was selected as the NL Player of the Week for that week[29] and the National League Player of the Month for May after he hit .393 with eight home runs and 25 RBI.[30] Puig was voted in as a starter for the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the youngest Dodger starter for an All-Star game since Steve Sax in 1982.[31] Puig also accepted an invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star festivities.[32]

On July 25, 2014, Puig went 4-5 with a career-high 4 extra-base hits, setting a Los Angeles Dodgers' record 3 triples, matching the Dodgers club record of three triples in a game set by Jimmy Sheckard of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1901.[33] Puig's teammates Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon each recorded one triple as well, tying the club's single-game triples record of 5, set in 1902 and 1921.[34]

Puig was selected to travel to Japan after the season with a team of MLB All-Stars playing against All-Stars of Nippon Professional Baseball in the 2014 Major League Baseball Japan All-Star Series.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Mugshot from Florida arrest, December 2013.

Puig was charged with reckless driving and speeding in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in April 2013, when he was caught driving 97 mph (156 km/h) in a 50 mph (80 km/h) zone.[36] He had those charges dismissed after he served 12 hours of community service.[37]

Puig was arrested on December 28, 2013, on another reckless driving charge for driving 110 MPH in a 70 MPH zone, in Naples, Florida, and taken to the Collier County Jail.[37][38] He was released after posting bail. The State of Florida elected to drop the reckless driving charge on January 28, 2014, after concluding that there was insufficient evidence to support the charge.[39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Cuban outfielder Puig defects". MLB.com. June 19, 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Cubs pursuing Cuban outfield prospect Puig". Chicago Tribune. June 27, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ Jeff Passan (July 2, 2013). "Coast Guard crew reflects on time with Yasiel Puig during attempt to defect to U.S. - Yahoo! Sports". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  4. ^ Dilbeck, Steve. "Yasiel Puig's incredible journey from Cuba to U.S. told by LA Magazine". latimes.com. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  5. ^ "Features - Los Angeles magazine". Lamag.com. 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  6. ^ Kussoy, Howie (2014-04-13). "Puig’s shocking defection tale: drug cartels, smuggling and murder | New York Post". Nypost.com. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  7. ^ Dilbeck, Steve. "Yasiel Puig's incredible journey from Cuba to U.S. told by LA Magazine". latimes.com. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  8. ^ "Features - Los Angeles magazine". Lamag.com. 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  9. ^ Jesse Sanchez (June 19, 2012). "Source: Dodgers agree to sign Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig". MLB.com. Retrieved June 28, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Yasiel Puig slays rookie ball, earns promotion to Rancho Cucamonga," Los Angeles Times, 8/13/12
  11. ^ "Puig looks to hone skills in Puerto Rico". ESPN.com. December 7, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Dodgers option Gordon, hot-hitting Puig to Minors". mlb.com. March 26, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Dodgers promote top Cuban prospect Puig". mlb.com. 
  14. ^ "Pair of homers plus Puig's defense lift Dodgers". mlb.com. 
  15. ^ Gurnick, Ken (June 5, 2013). "Puig's second game is better than his first". MLB.com. 
  16. ^ Laymance, Austin (June 7, 2013). "Puig punctuates Greinke's gem with first slam". MLB.com. 
  17. ^ Gurnick, Ken (June 8, 2013). "Puig's homer sets stage for wild walk-off in LA". MLB.com. 
  18. ^ Stephen, Eric (June 10, 2013). "Yasiel Puig wins NL Player of the Week". truebluela.com. 
  19. ^ Gurnick, Ken (June 19, 2013). "Hanley, Puig carry Dodgers to Bronx split". mlb.com. 
  20. ^ Stephen, Eric (June 24, 2013). "Dodgers 3, Giants 1: Yasiel Puig delivers again". truebluela.com. 
  21. ^ Laymance, Austin (June 30, 2013). "Puig sets LA rookie mark for hits in a month". mlb.com. 
  22. ^ Simon, Andrew (July 3, 2013). "Puig nabs NL Player, Rookie awards for June". mlb.com. 
  23. ^ Footer, Alyson (July 6, 2013). "Stunning start has Puig among Final Vote nominees". mlb.com. 
  24. ^ Zúñiga, Alejandro. "Freddie Freeman makes All-Star team with NL Final Vote win". Clarion-Ledger. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Freeman, Delabar win All-Star spots". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  26. ^ Eddy, Matt (October 3, 2013). "2013 Major League All-Rookie". Baseball America.com. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Historic Win for Cuban Jose Fernandez". BBWAA.com. November 11, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Yasiel Puig, Zack Greinke, Scott Van Slyke shine as Dodgers drub Arizona again". truebluela.com. May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  29. ^ Nowak, Joey (May 19, 2014). "Pollock, Puig named NL Players of the Week". mlb.com. Retrieved May 19, 2014. 
  30. ^ Stephen, Eric (June 3, 2014). "Yasiel Puig wins NL Player of the Month for May". truebluela.com. Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  31. ^ Stephen, Eric (July 6, 2014). "Clayton Kershaw, Yasiel Puig lead 4 Dodgers named to All-Star team". truebluela.com. Retrieved July 6, 2014. 
  32. ^ Stephen, Eric (July 8, 2014). "Yasiel Puig accepts Home Run Derby invite". truebluela.com. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  33. ^ Associated Press (25 July 2014). "Yasiel Puig, Dodgers match club records for triples in rout of Giants". ESPN. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  34. ^ Hernandez, Dylan (25 July 2014). "Yasiel Puig and Dodgers are triple threats in 8-1 win over Giants". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  35. ^ http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/mlb-stars-commit-to-all-star-series-in-japan?ymd=20140821&content_id=90726626&vkey=news_mlb
  36. ^ "L.A. Dodgers star Yasiel Puig arrested after driving 110 mph (180 km/h) on Alligator Alley". Naples Daily News. December 28, 2013. 
  37. ^ a b Axisa, Mike. "RYasiel Puig arrested on reckless driving charge in Florida". CBSSports.com. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Yasiel Puig of Los Angeles Dodgers arrested after being clocked at 110 mph (180 km/h)". Espn.go.com. December 29, 2013. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Yasiel Puig has reckless driving charge dropped by Florida authorities". Yahoo Sports. January 28, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Domonic Brown
Troy Tulowitzki
National League Player of the Month
June 2013
May 2014
Succeeded by
Jayson Werth
incumbent