Yasiel Puig Valdés ( /ˈjɑːsi.ɛl ˈpwiːɡ/ YAH-see-el PWEEG; Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpwiɣ] ; born December 7, 1990) is a Cuban-born right fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball (MLB). His nickname is "The Wild Horse" , given to him by legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully .

Puig played for the Cuban national baseball team in the 2008 World Junior Baseball Championship , winning a bronze medal . He defected from Cuba in 2012, and signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Dodgers. He made his MLB debut on June 3, 2013. In 2013, Puig hit .319 in 104 games with 19 home runs, and was selected by Baseball America to their annual "All-Rookie team".

Early life

Yasiel Puig was born in Cienfuegos , Cuba, the elder of two children of Omar and Maritza Puig. He has a younger sister, Yaima Puig. His father was an engineer in a sugar cane factory. He began playing baseball at the age of nine. [2]

Cuban career

Puig played for the Cuban national baseball team in the 2008 World Junior Baseball Championship , winning a bronze medal . He then played for the Cienfuegos team of the Cuban National Series in the 2008–09 Cuban National Series . He batted .276 with five home runs in his debut season. Puig enjoyed a breakout season in the 2009–10 Cuban National Series , with a .330 batting average, 17 home runs, 47 runs batted in (RBIs), and 78 runs scored in 327 at-bats . [3] [4] Puig also played for the Cuban national team in the 2011 World Port Tournament , where he tried to defect along with teammate Gerardo Concepción . Concepción was successful while Puig was not, and he was disciplined by not being allowed to play during the 2011–12 seasons.

Defection from Cuba to Mexico

Since 2009, Puig tried to defect to Mexico thirteen times, in order to become a legal resident so he could become eligible to sign a contract in Major League Baseball . [3] The first time, the police pulled over Puig's car. The second time, the boat failed to arrive. The third time, police raided their safe house and detained them for six days. On the fourth try, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant intercepted their boat near Haiti . The fifth time, he was successfully taken to Mexico by Los Zetas , a murderous Mexican drug cartel involved in cocaine and smuggling. [6]

The smugglers had agreed to sell Puig for $250,000 to Floridian Raul Pacheco, the 29-year-old president of Miami-based T&P Metal and PY Recycling, who in exchange would receive 20% of Puig's future earnings after he signed an MLB contract. [7] Pacheco had previously been arrested in 2009 for attempted burglary and in 2010 for using a fake Bank of America credit card to buy $150,000 worth of beer and having in his possession four other fraudulent credit cards and a fake ID card . He was sentenced to two years’ probation. Puig had also been offered to Los Angeles-based agent Gus Dominguez, starting at $175,000, and New York-based agent Joe Kehoskie , starting at $250,000. "Nobody's going to Cuba and bringing out a guy like Yasiel Puig," Kehoskie said, "and just handing him over to an agent out of the goodness of their heart."

A month later, the captain of the smuggling boat, Iago, was found dead in Cancún . [8] León was called "one of the most important capos of the Cuban-American mafia " by the United Press International . Cuban boxer Miguel Angel Corbacho Daudinot was sentenced to seven years in prison after Puig allegedly testified against him to the Cuban authorities. In 2013, Corbacho Daudinot's lawyers filed a federal lawsuit against Puig in Miami, claiming that Puig delivered false testimony that led to Corbacho Daudinot's imprisonment under "inhumane" conditions, and in so doing violated the Torture Victim Protection Act ; the suit seeks $12 million in damages. [9]

According to court records, Puig has paid Pacheco over $1.3 million. He also paid $400,000 to $500,000 to Alberto Fariñas, the 49-year-old vice president of Pacheco's T&P Metal company, and $600,000 to Marcos González, a Miami lawyer. He also paid an undisclosed amount to Gilberto Suarez, founder of a start-up company called Miami Sport Management. [10]

American career

Minor leagues

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Puig on June 28, 2012, to a seven-year deal worth $42 million. [11] Eddie Oropesa and special-education teacher Tim Bravo helped the newly arrived Puig adjust to life in the United States during his first year. [12] The Dodgers placed him on the 40-man roster and assigned him to their Arizona Rookie League team . In nine games, he hit .400 with four homers and 11 RBI.

On August 13, 2012, the Dodgers promoted Puig to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the Class A-Advanced California League . [2] He played in 14 games with the Quakes and hit .327. After the Quakes season, he was scheduled to join the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League , but a staph infection in his right elbow required surgery and sidelined him for several months. After the infection healed, he opted to play winter ball in Puerto Rico to keep his development on schedule. [2]

Puig had a very strong spring training with the Dodgers in 2013, hitting .526 in Cactus League games and having some in the press speculate that he might break camp with the Dodgers. However, he was optioned to the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Class AA Southern League just prior to the end of spring training. [2] He hit .313 with 8 home runs and 37 RBI for the Lookouts in 40 games.

Los Angeles Dodgers


On June 2, 2013, the Dodgers announced that they had recalled Puig from Chattanooga, and he made his debut on June 3. [2] In his first career at-bat, he singled to left-center off Eric Stults of the San Diego Padres . He was 2-for-4 in the game, and showcased his strong arm by recording an outfield assist on a double play to end the game. [2]

Puig hit two home runs, doubled, and drove in five runs in his second game. He became the first Dodger ever to have a multi-homer game in one of his first two appearances. The first home run was off Padres pitcher Clayton Richard . [2] In his fourth game, on June 6, 2013, he hit a grand slam off of Cory Gearrin of the Atlanta Braves . [2] The following day, Puig hit another homer to become only the 2nd player in the modern era ( Mike Jacobs in 2005 was the other) to hit four home runs in his first five games, and his 10 RBIs tied the Major League record for most RBIs in the first five games of a career (with Danny Espinosa ( 2010 ) and Jack Merson ( 1951 )). [2] Puig was named the National League Player of the Week for the week of June 3–9. [202]

Puig had 27 hits in his first 15 games, tied with Joe DiMaggio ( 1936 ) and Terry Pendleton ( 1984 ) for second-most all-time behind Irv Waldron ( 1901 ) and Bo Hart ( 2003 ) with 28. [89] He also became the first player in major league history to record at least 34 hits and seven home runs in his first 20 games and set Dodger records for most hits through 20 games (one more than Gibby Brack in 1937 ) and total bases through 20 games (58, four more than Del Bissonette in 1928 ). [23] Puig finished the month of June with 44 hits, breaking Steve Sax 's 1983 team record for most hits by a rookie in one month. That total was also second all-time for rookies in their first month, behind only DiMaggio who had 48. [24] In 26 games in June, Puig hit .436 with a .467 on-base percentage and a .713 slugging percentage. He won both the National League Rookie of the Month Award and the National League Player of the Month Award , the first time someone had won both in their first month in the Majors. [81]

Despite his not making his debut until June, Puig received 842,915 write-in votes from the fans for the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Game . His name was included among the All-Star Final Vote candidates. [26] Puig received 15.5 million votes, second to Atlanta Braves ' first baseman Freddie Freeman who received 19.7 million. [27] [20]

In 2013, Puig hit .319 in 104 games with 19 home runs and 42 RBIs. He was selected by Baseball America to their annual "All-Rookie team" [11] and finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting to fellow Cuban José Fernández . [212]


Puig in the Dodger Stadium outfield for the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers

On May 17, 2014, Puig had his eighth consecutive game with at least one extra-base hit and at least one RBI, which was a new record for the longest streak by a Dodger, surpassing the marks of Pedro Guerrero ( 1985 ), Duke Snider ( 1954 ), and Howie Schultz ( 1944 ). [4] He was selected as the NL Player of the Week for that week [4] and the National League Player of the Month for May after he hit .398 with eight home runs and 25 RBI. [4] Puig was voted in as a starter for the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game , the youngest Dodger starter for an All-Star game since Steve Sax in 1982 . [4] Puig also accepted an invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star festivities. [4]

On July 25, 2014, Puig went 4-5 with a career-high four extra-base hits, setting a Los Angeles Dodgers ' record 3 triples, matching the Dodgers club record of three triples in a game set by Jimmy Sheckard of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1901. [36] Puig's teammates Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon each recorded one triple as well, tying the club's single-game triples record of five, set in 1902 and 1921. [4]

Puig finished the 2014 regular season with 16 home runs and 69 RBI, and a .296 batting average. In the 2014 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals , Puig struck out seven times in a row over the first three games of the series. He then hit a triple and scored the Dodgers' only run in a 3-1 loss.

Puig was selected to travel to Japan after the season with a team of MLB All-Stars playing against All-Stars of Nippon Professional Baseball in the 2014 Major League Baseball Japan All-Star Series . [4]


Puig's follow through for the 2014 Dodgers

Puig began the 2015 season experiencing left hamstring issues that caused him to miss several games. On April 26, Puig was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his major league career, due to his nagging left hamstring. [4] [4] He rejoined the Dodgers roster on June 6. On August 18, Puig injured his right hamstring, and he was placed on the 15-day disabled list nine days later. He returned on October 3, appearing in the final two games of the season. He played in a total of 79 regular-season games. His batted .255/.322/.436, and he had 11 home runs, 38 RBIs, and 3 stolen bases -- all career lows. [44]


In the 2016 season, Puig was again hampered by hamstring issues which reduced his playing time and production. He hit .260 with seven home runs in 81 games through the end of July. On August 2, he was optioned to the AAA Oklahoma City Dodgers when the Dodgers acquired Josh Reddick in a trade to takeover the right field position. ESPN reported that Puig was told by the team on Monday August 1, the day of the trade deadline not to join the Dodgers on the road since he would either be traded or demoted. He rejoined the team in September and hit .263/.323/.416 on the season in 104 games with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs. He batted .211 (4-for-19) with a run scored in 10 postseason games. [44]


On June 13, 2017. Puig made an obscene gesture towards Cleveland Indians fans at Progressive Field after hitting a home run. The next day, he was suspended for a game., but he appealed the suspension and it was rescinded. He instead was allowed to make a charitable donation. For the season, he batted .263/.346/.487 with 28 home runs and 74 RBIs, as well as 15 stolen bases. [44] He was selected as the recipient of the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award for his play in right field. [6] He had a strong start to the post-season, hitting .455 in the 2017 NLDS and .389 with a home run in the 2017 NLCS . [44] However, in the 2017 World Series , he had only four hits in 27 at-bats (.148 average) as the Dodgers lost the series in seven games to the Houston Astros . Two of his four hits were home runs. [44]

Personal life

Puig was charged with reckless driving and speeding in Chattanooga, Tennessee , in April 2013, when he was caught driving 97 mph (156 km/h) in a 50 mph (80 km/h) zone. [6] He had those charges dismissed after he served 12 hours of community service . [62]

Puig was arrested on December 28, 2013, on another reckless driving charge for driving 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) in a 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) zone, in Naples, Florida , and taken to the Collier County Jail. [62] [6] He was released after posting bail . The State of Florida elected to drop the reckless driving charge on January 28, 2014, after concluding that there was insufficient evidence to support the charge. [6]

On February 2, 2017, Puig announced the birth of his son, Daniel Sebastian, via Twitter and Instagram . [6]

Puig has another son, named Diego Alejandro, who was born in December 2013.

See also