Dodgers prospect Yasiel Puig arrested in Tennessee.

Yasiel Puig

Authorities in Chattanooga, Tennessee arrested Dodgers prospect Yasiel Puig on charges of reckless driving, speeding and driving without proof of insurance Sunday, according to the Hamilton (Tenn.) County Sheriff.

The 22-year-old outfielder is currently on the roster of the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, and is on the disabled list with a sprained left thumb.

Puig signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Dodgers last June after defecting from Cuba, and left a significant impression in spring training. His .517 batting average led all players in spring, and his 1.328 OPS was second, tagging Puig as a can’t-miss prospect.

“We’re aware of the situation and we take it very seriously,” a Dodgers spokesperson said. “We’ll be handling discipline internally.”

It’s unwelcome news for a franchise that is seeking a complete turnaround from the regime of Frank McCourt, who spent lavishly on himself and drove the team into bankruptcy during eight years as the team’s owner. The Dodgers would like to see Sunday’s news become an isolated incident and not part of a pattern of behavior.

In March, manager Don Mattingly cited Puig’s maturity as one reason why the outfielder was sent to Chattanooga to begin the season. Asked Sunday if that sentiment was limited to Puig’s maturity as a baseball player, Mattingly said, “yeah, for the most part,” and cited two baseball reasons: His defensive play in the outfield and his baserunning.

General manager Ned Colletti said in March that Puig’s demotion was largely due to playing time: “I think he needs to play on an everyday basis to see what a season feels like.”
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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.