The spring training leader in batting average won’t begin the season in the majors. Or in Triple-A for that matter.
The Dodgers optioned Yasiel Puig, their most productive hitter since Cactus League play began, to Double-A Chattanooga, ending weeks of speculation about where the organization’s most intriguing prospect will begin his first full season outside Cuba.
The 22-year-old outfielder, whom the Dodgers signed signed for seven years and $42 million after defecting from Cuba last year, forced management to strongly consider him for an Opening Day roster spot. Puig was first in the majors in batting average (.527) and hits (29) during his first spring training. He led the National League with a .509 on-base percentage and ranks second with an .855 slugging percentage. He also ranks third with 16 runs scored.However, the Dodgers couldn’t find regular playing time for Puig with Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier all healthy to begin the season. Finding playing time was general manager Ned Colletti’s first priority, and Puig got more at-bats (57) and got into more games (26) than any Dodger. By going to Chattanooga, Puig will see a less hitter-friendly, and more major-league like environment, than he would in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Isotopes Park is known for inflated batting and home run totals, and Puig clearly didn’t need the help. The Dodgers also optioned Dee Gordon to Albuquerque after the shortstop batted .206 in camp. Gordon leads the NL with seven steals and is tied for fourth in the NL with 10 walks.