Up Close and Personal: Yasiel Puig

After taking two of three from the Padres, the Phillies travel from San Diego to Los Angeles for a four-game set with the Dodgers to finish off their West coast road trip. The Dodgers, much like the Phillies, have been an expensive disappointment. Last year, they took on $250 million in salary from the Red Sox, acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett in what was arguably the biggest trade in baseball history. Manager Don Mattingly, like Charlie Manuel has in the past, has stubbornly refused to use his best reliever (Kenley Jansen) in the most crucial situations, favoring a less-effective veteran (Brandon League).

Perhaps the most interesting storyline to come out of Los Angeles this year, however, has been Yasiel Puig. A Cuban defector, he signed with the Dodgers last year on a seven-year, $42 million contract. Between rookie ball in the Arizona League and a handful of at-bats with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, Puig flashed star potential at every turn. The Dodgers moved the 22-year-old to Double-A Chattanooga to start the 2013 season and the outfielder caught on fire immediately. Between the start of the season and the end of May, Puig posted a .982 OPS which included a .313 average, eight home runs, and 13 stolen bases in 167 plate appearances. The Dodgers, struggling mightily at the time due in large part to an avalanche of injuries, promoted Puig and put him in the starting lineup on June 3.

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