Friday, January 04, 2013

Dodgers Announce Winter Development Camp with a Notable Exclusion


Earlier this afternoon, the Dodgers forwarded an official press release regarding their upcoming Winter Development Program.  As I had noted a couple of days ago (here), this mini camp is an exclusive affair meant to allow the team to evaluate the progress of their most Major League ready prospects, while also giving them an opportunity to school them on the ins-n-outs of Major League Baseball Life.  Think of it as a prerequisite course you might take in college.

Anyway, my post from a couple of days ago was based on a report by MLB.com reporter Ken Gurnick (see that here) indicating that 13 Dodger prospects were invited to attend, but as I read the recently released Dodger press release someone was missing.

Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers Cuban sensation, is notably absent from the new list, and it makes me wonder if this is something fans should be concerned with.  After all, the team spent a huge chunk of change for a player who had yet to step on a professional ballfield, and I think it's fair to assume that his path to the Majors was expected to come sooner rather than later. 

What we know is that during his stay in the Arizona Fall League, Puig suffered a staph infection in his right elbow that required surgery and sidelined him from the ballfield for two months.  As a result, he didn't get a desirable amount of play in, and subsequently decided to play in the Puerto Rican Winter League to catch up. 

From a report by Ralph Pagan Archeval of ESPN:
“I am here to improve on my batting, since it had been two months since I had batted due to the elbow surgery I had,” he said.
...
“I now feel ready to work here in Puerto Rico, and that’s why I came,” he said. “I’ve come to improve on everything -- my batting, fielding, discipline -- since my objective is to get to spring training and the major leagues next year.”
Considering his exclusion from the Winter camp his ultimate goal of making the Majors this coming season may have been derailed.

While playing for Mayaguez Indios in the Puerto Rican League he has been less than impressive.  In fact, he has been downright horrible.  In 20 games he is batting a dismal .232, and his OPS is just as bad at .641.  Puig has struck out 19 times, which equates to 25% of his total plate appearances.  All of these numbers are far worse than his pre-surgery play. 

Has the long layoff combined with elbow surgery thrown him off-track to the point that an 2013 appearance is now unlikely?  Or is this an indication that Puig is still and always has been a ways away from making the big club regardless of his desires?   

In either case, it is worrisome that our $42Mil man has seemingly fallen behind.  Hopefully, a full season in the minors will allow him to regain his footing.

It is important to note that his Puerto Rican League team is currently in the playoffs, so maybe this move was done to just allow him a chance to play games rather than practice.  It was noted by Roberto at Vin Scully is My Homeboy on twitter that Puig will stay in Puerto Rico this weekend.  On the other hand, you would think that if he really was close to Major Leage ready then the Dodgers would want to make sure he has a better understanding of the public relations aspects of the game.

BTW, the 12 Dodgers who will be at Camelback Ranch this weekend are:
  • Joc Pederson
  • Chris Withrow
  • Zach Lee
  • Chris Reed
  • Paco Rodriguez
  • Tim Federowicz
  • Steven Ames 
  • Matt Magill
  • Onelki Garcia 
  • Rob Rasmussen  
  • Matt Wallach
  • Jeremy Moore
Also, what do you think of my fantasy Yasiel Puig Baseball card above?  It uses the 1987 Topps design.  I plan on making more fantasy cards of him over the coming weeks.

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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