Puig was born on Dec. 7, 1990, in Cienfuegos, Cuba. As a young boy, Puig would watch his city’s baseball team, the Elefantes, with great admiration. With age, his dream to play professional baseball progressed.
At 17 Puig made Cuba’s junior national team and participated in the World Juniors Championship. Cuba lost to South Korea in the semi-finals, taking home a bronze metal. Puig’s outstanding performance during the championship earned him a spot on the professional team Cienfuegos Elefantes of the Serie Nacional. His season consisted of 17 home runs and a .330 average in 327 at-bats. After making a notable impact in the Cuban baseball-sphere, Puig sought to stretch his borders and play American ball.
Puig and one of his teammates, Gerardo Concepcion, attempted to escape to the United States. Concepcion was allowed onto American territory but Puig was caught and sent back to Cuba— he was kicked off of the national team and suspended from the Serie Nacional Play as punishment. However his desire to move to the States remained subsequent to his suspension from the team.
The following April, Puig and dozens of young men and women boarded an American escape boat. He was again unsuccessful and was repatriated to Cuba.
Yunior Despaigne, Puig’s childhood friend who accompanied him during his escape, says that Puig was in physical danger numerous times— he dove into dark waters to evade Cuban authorities, hiked through crocodile-infested mangrove swamps and was held captive on an island near Cancun, Mexico.
Puig finally gained his freedom when he arrived in Mexico in June. Rumors speculate that he was shipped to Cancun by a drug cartel.
Jaime Torres assisted Puig on getting his first baseball contract. He arranged for a scout to watch Puig hit in Mexico City. The Los Angeles Dodgers decided to give Puig a spot with a 42 million dollar deal over seven seasons. Puig was given the opportunity to play in the outfield in June of 2013 when outfielder Carl Crawford injured his hamstring.
Puig shares that he is very happy to be in Los Angeles and playing for the Dodgers because his teammates are very helpful. Many Dodger fans are excited to have him playing for the team.
Dodger fan and Archer parent Leonard Gonzales tells the Oracle, “He’s young, and it’s obvious he’s a great player with much room to grow. He tends to overdo himself with his efforts and creates mental errors, but his talent makes up for that.”