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.