From fantasy perspective, Yasiel Puig's debut wasn't anything special. Two singles in four at-bats, no run production. But anyone who watched the full spectacle of his Monday introduction had to come away impressed.
The Dodgers knew they were getting a toolsy prospect when they dropped a $42 million contract on Puig last June, and that was validated in the series-opening victory over San Diego. Puig showed afterburners on the bases, going first to third on a shallow single, and he ended the game with a brilliant throw from right field. Seriously, go watch that tape now. And at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, the rookie fills out the uniform nicely.
Back to our fake numbers racket, there's legitimate reason to be excited. Puig was an overlord during spring training (.517, three homers) and he also made a splash at Double-A Chattanooga (.313/.383/.599 eight homers, 13 steals). Don Mattingly isn't handling the rookie with kid gloves: Puig went right into the leadoff spot. This is a team that badly needs a spark; maybe the 22-year-old Cuban can provide it.
Here's some additional context from longtime Dodgers beat reporter Ken Gurnick; listen for the intriguing name drops:
As for having the new man assume Carl Crawford's leadoff role, Mattingly said, "He gives us energy at the top. He can steal a base, hit a homer. I just want him to play, that's all. It's his first game. I'm sure there are going to be some nerves."
Mattingly said he sees some Bo Jackson and Mike Trout in the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Puig from a physical standpoint.
"He's got that NFL running back type body," Mattingly said.
Puig was snapped up quickly in most aggressive pools, but there's room for more on the bandwagon. He's currently owned in 54 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• We've finally seen a little offensive awakening from Rickie Weeks: he had a single and a walk in Sunday's loss to Philly, and he came through with a triple and homer, driving in two, Monday against Oakland. But is it already too late for Weeks to save his season?
The Brewers called up infield prospect Scooter Gennett on Monday, and the plan is for him to share the second-base gig with Weeks. Manager Ron Roenicke says it's not going to be a strict platoon and that's good news for Weeks - Gennett is a left-handed batter. The 23-year-old had a .297/.342/.376 slash at Triple-A, with a homer and eight stolen bases. I understand the buy-low angle on Weeks now that he's hit a little bit, but I'd prefer to look at the other side of the case: maybe this mild run will provide Weeks owners with a chance to cash out before the command price hits zero. Pick your side in the comments.
• Mike Aviles has been a Terry Francona favorite for a while, and it looks like the Indians need to keep the versatile infielder in the lineup. Asdrubal Cabrera suffered a quad injury in Monday's loss at New York and probably will need time on the DL. Aviles is ready to fill in, offering a solid .283-16-3-18-4 roto line over a modest 106 at-bats. He qualifies at three positions in Yahoo! leagues (second, short, third) and you want to be tied to this Cleveland offense (sixth in the majors in scoring). Aviles is owned in just six percent of Y! as we go to press.
• Is Tyler Skaggs the next pitching success story in Arizona? He looked ready to go during a spot start against Texas last week (six bagels, three walks, nine strikeouts), and he struck out 9.4 batters per every nine innings at Triple-A Reno this year. Don't be fooled by the 5.23 ERA there; he's pitched a lot better of late.
The prospect hounds are in love with Skaggs: Baseball America and MLB.com both called him a Top 12 prospect before the year. He doesn't turn 22 until the middle of July but the strikeout potential is difficult to ignore. Tuesday's start at St. Louis is a dicey assignment, but if Skaggs sticks around he'll get San Francisco (home) and San Diego (road) after that. Plausible upside exists, if you feel like kicking some tires.
• Jurickson Profar has passed the eye test during his first 10 games in the show: .324/.350/.514 slash, two homers. His solo shot Sunday against the Royals turned into the game-deciding run. The Texas brass has been impressed, to the point Profar might stay in the majors even after Ian Kinsler returns.
“We’re in the business of winning games,” general manager Jon Daniels told the Forth Worth Star-Telegram on Monday. “You usually have a better chance of winning games when you have your best players on the team. If he demonstrates that he deserves to be in that mix, it’s something we’ll talk about.”
I don't see an obvious way for the pieces to fit, but it's not my oil field. Kinsler isn't going to sit and neither is Elvis Andrus. Mitch Moreland has solidified first base, a position some viewed as a landing spot for Kinsler. Gut feel, I still think the Rangers will return Profar to the minors at some point this summer. The team has the AL's best record and can afford to be patient.
• Is the glass half full or half empty with Kris Medlen? (And where did this refreshing lemonade come from?) A 3.14 ERA and 54 strikeouts isn't so bad just past the one-third mark of the year, though the peripheral crunch doesn't buy the ERA at all.
Medlen's had trouble commanding his fastball and change on a consistent basis, but he was sharp Monday against the Pirates (7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K). The immediate schedule plays along: Dodgers on the road, Giants at home. The next starting pitcher Shuffle Up is coming on Thursday; I suspect Medlen will be ranked somewhere in the 38-45 range.
Speed Round: Domonic Brown went deep, because he always does, and Kyle Kendrick worked a creamy-smooth nine as the Phillies rolled past the Marlins . . . Jim Henderson (hamstring) is confident he'll be ready Saturday, so the K-Rod retro tour could be over shortly . . . Sneaky sleeper Tyler Chatwood worked just four innings at Cincinnati before a triceps injury knocked him out. He's hoping to be ready for his Coors turn against San Diego on the weekend . . . Matt Carpenter's music keeps on playing: three hits, three runs in a romp over Arizona. He's at 46 runs for the year, tied for first in the majors . . . Michael Brantley will probably be Cleveland's No. 3 batter if Cabrera needs a DL stint, as expected . . . Break up the Astros, who swept four in Anaheim and now have a six-game winning streak. Jose Veras and Chris Carter both have their obvious fleas, but if you focus on one stat (11 Veras saves, 12 Carter homers), you might be fine to keep them around . . . Normally soft-rock Tommy Milone goes into the home-only file (2.92 ERA there, 4.62 ERA on the road), but he had little problem in Milwaukee on Monday (7 IP, 5, H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K). No reason not to start him at the White Sox on the weekend, and obviously against Seattle (at home) after that . . . Mark Teixeira's grand slam sparked New York's win over Cleveland and gave John Sterling something to crow about. Teixeira is just 2-for-12 since returning, with two walks and eight strikeouts. His opening-month struggles of the past are well-documented; is that more about early-season rust or early-season weather? Your witness . . . Jason Heyward got off the skids, collecting a single and homer in the victory over Pittsburgh. If you want some pro-Heyward spin with your Tuesday brunch, check in with esteemed colleague Kat Von D Dalton Del Don.