In just a handful of games, Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig has caught the imagination of baseball. In his big league debut, he gunned down a Padres runner to end the game. For an encore, the next night, he socked a pair of tape measure home runs. Three games into his career, the legend of Puig is growing by the day.
Puig’s on-field accomplishments are there for anybody with computer access to watch, but who the hell is this 22-year-old Cuban defector that LA signed to a seven-year $42 million deal last June?
Here are five things we tracked down on the Interwebs that you should get to know about Puig:
1. Puig’s good with computers:
Puig’s parents — Omar and Maritza — are both engineers. The Los Angeles Times gives us this detail about his computer savvy:
Dodgers scouting director Logan White laughed Monday as he recalled taking Puig to dinner while courting him in Mexico. Wanting Puig to show him articles written about him in Cuba, White took out his laptop but couldn’t log on to the Internet. Puig fixed the problem.
“He knew more about my computer than I did,” White said.
2. Puig likes to drive fast:
In April while playing in the minors for the Chattanooga Lookouts Puig was arrested for speeding and reckless driving. He was reportedly clocked going 97 mph in a 50 mph zone while serving as a designated driver. Puig posted a .313/.383/.599 line in Double-A over 40 games with eight homers and 37 RBIs before being called up.
3. Baseball people love to compare Puig to Bo Jackson:
In spring training Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly, told the LA Times: “You don’t see this kind of package. This is a Bo Jackson type package you just don’t see.”
How about Puig himself? What does he think of the Jackson comparisons? It appears the rookie didn’t know who Bo was until he arrived in America, but he’s gotten asked the question enough from reporters that he’s developed an All-Star level eye roll.
4. Puig is good, but hold off on the Mike Trout comparison for now:
LA Times columnist Bill Shaikin argued, before Puig’s debut on Monday mind, that it would be unfair to think the Cuban prospect would have the same impact on the slumping Dodgers in 2013 as Mike Trout did for the Angels in 2012. The main difference is that Trout spent 249 games in the minors and had a short stint with the Angels before being called up for good last April. Puig only had 63 minor league games before getting called up by necessity due to injuries to Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp.
The Dodgers won the first two games with Puig in the lineup, before losing to the Padres Wednesday night. Los Angeles is 8.5 out in the National League West and nine games from a Wild Card spot.
Even if he doesn’t help the Dodgers get back into contention, Puig will at least give fans a reason to come to the park. It might not reach “Fernando Mania” level heights, but Puig has created buzz in Chavez Ravine.
5. Puig loves to flip his bat after home runs:
And also after strikeouts.
Puig’s highlights in Cuban action are impressive, including the diving-catch in the outfield that led to a double-play at the end of the reel. Bo would be impressed.