The MVP-caliber center fielder is hurt. The left fielder is hurt. The shortstop is hurt. The catcher is hurt. There is no real third baseman. The bullpen leads the majors in losses. The once pitching-heavy rotation only has one healthy guy. Oh yeah, the team payroll is over 200 million dollars. Ladies and gentlemen, meet your 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers.
There may be little joy in Mudville one-third of the way through the season, but there is a something to be excited about. With all the injuries, the Dodgers have been forced to call up their prized prospect, a 22 year-old Cuban named Yasiel Puig. Puig signed a reported seven-year, 42-million dollar contract last summer, and played some in the low minors. This year, he had an excellent spring training, but there was no room for him in the outfield with a healthy Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier. So the front office people decided to send him to Double-A Chattanooga. He was batting .313 with 8 home runs, 37 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases in 40 games with the Lookouts when he got the call to the big leagues yesterday. He was in Los Angeles tonight, batted leadoff against the Padres, went 2-for-3, and threw out a runner at first base for a game-ending double play.
Now Los Angeles has no shortage of stars, and neither do the Dodgers, but if you believe that one player can spark a ball club and turn it into a winner, this could be the chance in Tinseltown. The comparisons have been in long before Puig's debut this evening. Some say he is the second coming of Bo Jackson. Puig is naturally compared to his countryman Yoenis Cespedes, who is in his second season with the Oakland A's. Cespedes has not disappointed in the East Bay, although his defense was a little questionable last year. Puig is said to be stronger and faster than Cespedes, and also younger. You could even make a Matt Kemp anaolgy with Puig's speed and power, but Kemp is on the Disabled List, and only has two more home runs than I do, so let's not go there.
There actually are highly-touted prospects that get to the big leagues, and live up to the hype. Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg have both done it in Washington, but both are currently hurt. Mike Trout is a sensation in Anaheim, and Los Angeles has experienced it not only with Kemp (until this year), but also with Clayton Kershaw. Puig is not a publicity stunt to keep L.A. fans coming to the recently-improved Dodger Stadium. He figures to be the real deal.
More baseball: Speaking of prospects, the Major League draft will be held this week, beginning on Thursday and running through Sunday. The draft has traditionally been held during the week, but has been moved to try to maximize an MLB Network audience. Dodger pitcher Paco Rodriguez was the first player taken in last year's draft to make it to the big leagues.
The draft is also something fans of the Marysville Gold Sox can keep an eye on. In the first ten years of the summer collegiate wood-bat club, exactly 250 players have appeared in a game. Exactly 50 of those have gone on to play affiliated minor league baseballó42 were drafted and signed, and eight went undrafted, but signed as minor league free agents.
Speaking of the Gold Sox (trying to keep the segues going), they are off to an 8-0 start, the second best in franchise history (15-0 last year).