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June 3, 2013 3:37 pm

The Call-Up: Yasiel Puig


Jason Parks and Bret Sayre

The prospect star of spring training arrives.

The Situation: With an outfield on the injury shelf, the Dodgers called up their finest minor league treasure in Yasiel Puig. After a monstrous spring training during which the Cuban defector stomped all over the Cactus League landscape destroying buildings and exhaling fire and fury, it was only a matter of time and opportunity before he arrived on the major league scene.

Background: The 22-year-old Cuban has quite the attractive narrative, with escape attempts and house arrest preceding his first-world fame. It’s a romantic story—one that deserves to be told in more depth—but the genesis of his tale as it relates to his career in the majors was the outrageous contract he received from the Dodgers after establishing post-defection residency in Mexico. A complete unknown to most fans, Puig was given a lucrative financial package, complete with a $12M signing bonus as the bow on a seven-year, $42M deal. Based on the scarcity of scouting intel available at the time, the signing seemed irresponsible and casual, even considering the deep pockets of the new Los Angeles ownership. Most reactions fell along the lines of, “The Dodgers gave $42M to a Cuban player based on an impressive batting practice session? What am I missing?”

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May 10, 2013 1:14 am

The Call-Up: Burch Smith


Jason Cole and Bret Sayre

The Padres call up the Texas League's most dominant starter.

The Situation: With Clayton Richard becoming the latest Padres starter to land on the DL, the club is calling up Smith from Double-A San Antonio. He’ll join the rotation and make his big-league debut against Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Background: San Diego’s 14th-round pick in the 2011 draft, Smith was selected out of the University of Oklahoma after beginning his collegiate career at Texas JUCO power Howard College. The right-hander’s velocity has jumped a tick since his college days, and his command continues to improve. Following a solid full-season debut at High-A Lake Elsinore last season, Smith has been the Texas League’s most dominant starter in the early going this year. Through six starts, he has yielded just four earned runs on 17 hits in 31.1 innings, walking six and striking out 37. The Texan did not rank in Baseball Prospectus’ top 10 Padres prospects over the offseason, though he certainly would if they were re-ranked today.

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