In June of 2013, a young Cuban outfielder made his Major League debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Then a 22-year-old prospect signed to a lucrative deal, Yasiel Puig electrified the city of Los Angeles. In his first month with the team, Puig hit .436 while collecting 44 hits, second most all-time for a rookie in his first month behind Joe DiMaggio in 1936. He, along with Hanley Ramirez, was a catalyst in turning the season around. Puig is now 24, and is heading into his second full season with the Dodgers.
In an interview with Jim Hill for CBS , Dodgers’ president Stan Kasten spoke about Puig’s development over the past two years, and where he wants him to get to during the 2015 season:
Yasiel is at an age where he really can make a step up,” Kasten said. “I’ve talked to him about certain things. Learning English. He’s done very well in two years. If he takes another couple of strides, that could improve everything around him, not only his communication with his players and coaches, but his communication with his fans, and in the marketplace.”
Puig was named to his first National League All-Star team in 2014, and he finished the season batting .296 with 16 home runs and 69 RBIs. Kasten believes that Puig will only build on that this upcoming season:
I think he’s done OK so far. Obviously, he could have done it better, but I think what he’s accomplishing, what he’s given us so far, I’m very happy with his progress so far, but I do think he has more in him, and I expect that we’re going to CONTINUE to see progress.”
The Dodgers will be relying on their young outfielder a lot more this season as a middle-of-the-order threat, after the departures of bats like Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon. It will be interesting to see if Puig is ready to make that leap to superstardom on and off the field.