Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is greeted by manager Don Mattingly as he returns to the dugout after his two run home run in the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on June 4, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. It was Puig's second home run of the game.
Yasiel Puig has played in 10 games in his major league career, and has practically become an urban legend within Los Angeles and certain circles of baseball already.
Don Mattingly was barraged with questions about Puig the past 10 games, and throughout the press conferences he gave in the homestand, he offered some perspective as to what Yasiel Puig has been doing. He noted that while he certainly is special, he is still learning how to play the game correctly.
Without injuries to Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig would still be in the minors. The 22-year old Cuban phenom only played in 60 minor league games, racking up just 262 plate appearances.
"Guys come up earlier now, its just the way it is, the system has changed to the point guys come quicker" Mattingly said on Thursday. "They used to say, you need 1,500 at bats in the minor leagues to be ready for the big league. And he didn't get 1,500."
"A lot of the experiences that go along with those 1,500 at bats is a lot of games played, a lot of base running situations, a lot of outfield situations that came with that."
This accelerated track forced the Dodgers coaches to change their management style to accommodate player needs. "They don't get as much experience, so we continue to teach here. Its just part of the game at this point."
There were several points in the last week when Puig has shown that his baseball skills are unrefined. There are parts of the game where he relies on raw talent now, but they will come easier to him over time.
"When Yasiel (Puig) comes up we know its still a teaching situation, so Davey knows he still has to work with him in different spots of the outfield, we got to continue on base running," Mattingly said.
Puig is not the only player they have pushed through the system and have work left to do with, in this season.
"And (Puig's) no different than Scotty (Van Slyke) who comes up and has to work in different outfield spots and (Tim Ferderowicz) continues to work on his defense and in the bullpen catching-wise," Mattingly said. "When Dee (Gordon) was here he was taking ground balls working on defense everyday."
When comparing the minor league experience of veteran Dodgers' to the players they have brought up it helps you realize how young these players really are.
Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto, and Skip Schumaker all have over 2,400 career minor league at bats, while Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford came up quicker with 1,700 at bats.
Tim Federowicz, Alex Castellanos and Dee Gordon are all around the 1,800 at bat margin. This forces perspective because they have been back and forth between the leagues, and are players that are going to take more time to develop than superstars like Ramirez and Kemp.
Fans have been calling for outfielder, Joc Pederson, to get called up too, but maybe his 1,141 at bats is a signal why the Dodgers have left him in Double-A.
It is kind of funny, while Don Mattingly has been trying to calm down the wild expectations of Puig, he ended up adding to the legend. Yasiel Puig's 262 minor league at bats just puts an emphasis on how outrageous his rise has been.