With the influx of Cuban talent throughout their organization, Hector Olivera figures to be the next Cuban native that will make an impact with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After officially signing a six-year, $62.5 million contract with the Dodgers, the 30-year-old infielder was sent to Camelback Ranch for a period of training.
Olivera went on to play six games with Double-A Tulsa before moving on to Triple-A Oklahoma City. He continued to get work at both second and third base, while swinging the big bat that piqued the Dodgers’ interest. A hamstring strain forced Olivera to return to the club’s Spring Training facility, though he’s now played six rehab games with the Arizona League Dodgers.
While the injury slowed Olivera’s rise to the Majors, his arrival nonetheless remains expected. When asked recently how Olivera compares to fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly cautioned not to lump the two together, via Greg Hadley of the LA Times:
I don’t know if Olivera is the same as [Yasiel] Puig, from the standpoint of Puig just kind of built the energy. He had a great spring, came up, he made a catch and a play on the first day, got hits all over the place, just erupted that way…. Hector sounds like he’s pretty solid as far what he does, day in and day out. The guy can really play. I think he gives us another answer or potential guy who can do some things offensively.”
Puig batted .486/.514/.886 with four home runs and 10 RBIs through his first 10 Major-League games. He was called up June 3 and hit .436/.467/.713 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs in 26 games (25 starts) that month.
On top of the production he provided, Puig’s exuberance and personality helped sparked the Dodgers on their historic 42-8 run that summer. While the Dodgers have high hopes for Olivera, he presumably won’t be expected to revive a disappointing and underwhelming ball club.
Through 19 games ranging from the rookie Arizona League to Triple-A, Olivera is batting .348/.392/.493 with two home runs, seven RBIs, nine strikeouts and five walks. Olivera slashed .323/.407/.505 over 10 seasons in the Cuban professional league.