Puig Looks For Spot In Crowded Dodgers' Outfield

LOS ANGELES The suddenly free-spending Dodgers have five years and $281 million committed to the outfield of Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford. This would seem to leave little room for the guy many in the front office believe could be the best player in the organization.

Before trading for Crawford or putting the final touches on Ethier's contract extension, the team saw its future in 21-year-old Cuban defector Yasiel Puig.

"We don't have anybody in the system that can square a ball up like he does," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told the Los Angeles Times.

"(He) has the highest ceiling in the system," assistant GM Logan White agreed.

There's no question Puig has big league tools, with White saying he has just 7 percent body fat on a 6-foot-2, 245-pound frame. And he hit .354/,442/.634 with five homers, three triples and eight steals in a 23-game trial this summer split between the Rookie-level Arizona League and high Class A Rancho Cucamonga.

But he also displayed an immaturity that is of concern to some in the organization.
Puig needed seven seconds to stroll to first after hitting his first Cal League single. After another hit, he took a wide turn and gestured toward the right fielder—who threw behind Puig and picked him off. And when an opposing manager got in an argument with an umpire, Puig mimicked the ejection—just for laughs, he said.

The Dodgers spent $42 million to sign Puig in June without seeing him play a game. To give you an idea how the baseball world has changed, neither the Yankees nor Red Sox have that kind of money committed to any of their outfielders.

The problem now won't be paying him though, but finding a place for him to play beyond his expected appearance in the Arizona Fall League.


• The Dodgers extended affiliation agreements with Triple-A Albuquerque and Rancho Cucamonga for two years. The team's other top affiliates—Double A Chattanooga, low Class A Great Lakes and Rookie-level Ogden—were already under contract through the 2014 season.

• Ogden reached the Pioneer League finals for the third consecutive season—only to lose for the third consecutive time.