Before Matt Kemp was placed on the DL last week, manager Don Mattingly indicated he wanted a true center fielder to replace him if he is on the DL. Many thought a call up of Joc Pederson was imminent, as he is the center fielder for AA Chatannoga. Then we got news that Tony Gwynn Jr. would be called up from AAA Albuquerque. Well, that never happened as Mattingly went with Andre Ethier and Skip Shumaker in center field in their three game series with the Rockies.
The decisions were curious until we learned that they were also seeing whether top prospect Yasiel Puig could play center field or not. Puig played center field on Thursday and Friday, and was scheduled to play on Saturday evening, that is, until Carl Crawford had to be removed from Saturday's game with a hamstring injury.
After losing to the Rockies on Sunday, the Dodgers decided to finally call up Puig. According to Eric Stephen at True Blue LA, Puig will be in the Dodgers lineup for the start of their 10 game home stand on Monday vs the Padres. The team is struggling to score runs, and are without Kemp, Crawford, catcher A.J. Ellis and shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
What can we expect from Puig now that he has finally been called up? Here is a look at how he has performed in AA this season, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:
As his stats show, Puig has power, speed and a solid eye at the plate. He was Baseball America's #47 ranked prospect, yet was not on Keith Law's Top 100 prospect list, so there was a wide range of opinion on him coming into the season. At the time of his call up, Puig was leading the Southern League in hitting with a .313 average, was tied for third in HRs with 8, third in RBI with 37 and was 10th in stolen bases with 15, yet had about 50-60 less at bats than other hitters in the league.
The question with Puig is whether he will remain with the club once Kemp returns from the DL in two weeks, and all indications are that he will return when the 15 days are up. If he stays with the club, I could see him used in a platoon with Andre Ethier in right field, and as a back up to Kemp in center and a back up to Crawford in left field.
Then again, the on again/off again trade rumors involving Andre Ethier could get started again should Puig perform well enough to warrant him staying with the big league club.
Should he remain with the big league club and play, say, four times per week, I could see him hitting 12-14 home runs, stealing double digit bags, and hitting for a respectable .275-.280 batting average. If he somehow plays every day from here on out, the chances are slim, he could approach 17-18 HRs and 15 stolen bases.
Sound too optimistic? What kind of numbers do Fake Teams faithful think he can put up should he play four times per week for the rest of the season?
Our own Craig Goldstein wrote up this piece on Puig back on March 28th.