Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
Yasiel Puig was signed by the Dodgers to a massive contract last year, but what could he be for fantasy owners?
Any time you are dealing with a Cuban defector for a prospect, there tends to be a ton of unknowns surrounding the player. With Yasiel Puig, there were questions about whether he would be cleared to negotiate prior to the new international spending caps taking effect. There were questions about who actually represented the outfielder, along with where he would work out for teams. And of course there were the questions about how much a year off might hurt Puig's development, and what he actually could be in the Major Leagues, given the lack of recent scouting information about him. However, none of that stopped the Dodgers, as they signed him to a 7 year, $42 million dollar Major League contract prior to the new rules taking effect.
The Dodgers sent Puig to their rookie league affiliate in Arizona, where he made it abundantly clear that they were overmatched by him. In just 9 games, Puig hit .400/.500/1.000 with 4 home runs, 3 triples, and a stolen base to go along with 6 walks against 7 strikeouts. They promoted him to High-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he "slowed" to a .327/.407/.423 slash line, 1 home run, 2 doubles, and 7 steals in 11 attempts. The Dodgers had planned to send Puig to the Arizona Fall League to get more at bats, but he was sidelined due to a staph infection.
The actual performance isn't remotely large enough of a sample size (23 games) to really tell us a ton about what Puig could be, so we're going to have to rely on the scouting reports that have come out so far. He has shown above average power at times, which it sounds like has the potential to translate as he continues to move up the system. However, from there, the reports tend to be very mixed. He has shown excellent speed at times, but both Keith Law and Baseball America noted that they see average speed. Reports on his throwing arm have been all over the board as well, as some reports have noted it was average with others thinking it was better than that.
At this point, Puig seems like a lottery ticket for fantasy owners. He could be a five tool outfield prospect that moves through the system quickly, providing solid power and speed production along with batting average. He could stall out next year in High-A or AA as he struggles with shaking out the rust that comes with not really playing consistently. The biggest thing at this point for Puig is to start getting at bats against minor league competition, and over time they should start to expose whatever his major issues may be.
SBNation's Dodgers' blog, True Blue LA, ranked Puig as their top prospect in the system recently, and we included him as our #13 outfield prospect as well. We should learn a lot about Puig in 2013, which could lead him to vault all the way to the top of our own rankings as well. He has the potential to be one of the higher ceiling prospects in all the minors, but with just 23 games as a professional we simply need more information.