a: not cooked <raw meat>
b: being in or nearly in the natural state <in the raw>
c: not processed or purified <raw fibers> <raw sewage>
d: not diluted or blended <raw spirits>
e: unprepared or imperfectly prepared for use; not being in polished, finished, or processed form <raw data>
f: lacking experience or understanding <a raw recruit>
g: term used by every freaking writer in the world to describe Yasiel Puig
(source: Merriam-Webster - with the exception of “g”).
“Raw.” I’m sick of this word. I’ve heard it used more this spring than anytime I can recall. Seriously, aside from Rocky Balboa before he runs in the morning, who takes their eggs raw? The word doesn’t conjure up very pleasant things. I mean, come on, “raw sewage,” “raw meat.” When someone references that you woke up from “sleeping in the raw,” images of cover girl models don’t appear. “Raw data?” Usually information that can’t be used until analyzed at length. “Raw humor?” Often vulgar or offensive. “Raw deal?” You just got the shaft.
So why is it that the word “Raw” continually surfaces when the Dodgers finest prospect in years is mentioned?
Yasiel Puig has been tearing up Spring Training and EVERYBODY (including me) has used the adjective “raw” as a means to describe his ability. I think it’s time to search our thesaurus to come up with some more adjectives that would appropriately fit. If you don’t believe me, follow along:
“The best word for me with Yasiel is ‘raw,’” Mattingly said, per MLB.com. “This guy is full speed. He is a beast. It is a body in motion. When this guy comes around the bases, it’s a train coming. … But it’s raw, and it’s full speed, and I like it. It’s like a wild horse.”
Steve Dilbeck (LA Times March 11, 2013:
“Yasiel Puig needs some serious seasoning. As enormously talented as he appears, he is a player with a total of 82 at-bats at the minors’ lower levels. He screams for polish. Manager Don Mattingly calls him raw.”
Bill Plunkett, OC Register:
“Puig a raw but tantalizing prospect.”
Mike Petriello (March 3rd at MikeScsiosciasTragicIllness.com)
“A week into camp, one of the more encouraging signs for the Dodgers is how great Yasiel Puig has looked. In what’s really been the first extended look at him for most of us, we’ve seen him display the raw tools that so enticed the Dodgers last summer…”
Mark Saxon, ESPN.com, March 3rd:
“Puig is working closely with McGwire, the Dodgers’ hitting coach, in the batting cages at Camelback Ranch, trying to refine a powerful but raw swing into something that can withstand the rigors of major-league pitching.”
Ken Gurnick, MLB.com, March 5th:
“With a body like Bo Jackson, Puig possesses power, running speed, ball-catching skills and a right-fielder arm. But with limited exposure as a young Cuban ballplayer, Puig’s raw skills were relatively under wraps when he escaped his homeland for free agency.”
BaseballProspectNation.com, September 7, 2012:
“(Puig has) raw potential to be an All-Star level player but has to adjust to advanced competition.”
Christopher Gamble, www.rantsports.com, February 20, 2012:
“Puig might run into some difficulty at Double-A as he is still a very raw prospect. However, he does have a ton of natural ability and that should eventually overcome any problems that he encounters due to his lack of experience.”
Chris Cwik, CBSSports.com, March 12, 2013:
“There was initially some concern about Puig’s conditioning, but ESPN’s Keith Law recently noted that Puig has lost a little weight since then. He remains incredibly raw, but is a player Dodgers’ fans will undoubtedly keep an eye on over the next couple of seasons.”
John Sickels, SB Nation, (Feb. 22, 2013:
“Using some of their new-found financial resources, the Dodgers signed Cuban defector Yasiel Puig to a seven-year contract worth $42,000,000 last June. There was mixed opinion about this in the baseball world: some scouts felt that Puig was too raw and risky to be worth that kind of money, but the Dodgers see him as a possible superstar.”
Eric Stephen, TrueBlueLA.com, Feb 18, 2013:
“One of the first things noteworthy about Yasiel Puig when seeing him up close is his size. The Dodgers list the 22-year-old Cuban outfielder as 6’3, 215 pounds, but in proximity looks more like an NFL linebacker. The other thing that is evident is his raw talent. But despite their $42 million investment in him, don’t look for the Dodgers to rush him to the majors anytime soon.”
Jack Moore, Fangraphs.com, June 28, 2012:
“Speed is speed, and Puig hit six triples with his Cuban team but also was thrown out in four of his nine stolen base attempts. Evaluation of Puig’s defense will be toughest of all. Workouts can show raw ability, but they may not show the kind of reactions and decision-making necessary to defend at the MLB level.”
Logan White as quoted in AOL/Sporting News.com piece on June 29, 2012:
“’Yasiel is a fantastic kid with an infectious personality, and we think he has the tools to be a front-line player in the major leagues,’ said Logan White, the Dodgers’ assistant general manager in charge of scouting. ‘He is very physical and athletic with raw power… He can hit it a long way. On top of that, he has a good arm and is an above-average runner.’”
* * *
Raw tools, raw power, raw ability, raw swing, raw skills, raw potential – the word is used almost daily in a negative way as if to question Puig’s maturity and implies that he isn’t ready as a major league player
What more does this kid have to do to prove that raw tools, raw power, raw ability, raw swing, raw skills, raw potential aren’t negative things, they’re great things? They should imply that his ceiling is unlimited and that he has uncapped potential – which is exactly what he is doing.
I’ll just say this and I’ll keep the “r” word out of it: Yasiel Puig’s performance thus far in Spring Training is probably the most impressive of ANY player that has worn a Dodger uniform. I don’t care how inexperienced he is. If he remains free of injury, this guy is the real deal and we have a lot to look forward to. With regard to his need to get more minor league games under his belt – if he’s performing as is, I don’t see why he can’t do it on the Major League level. If Carl Crawford isn’t healthy enough to start the season with the big club, it would be almost criminal to not put Puig in left field.
There is the occasional arrival to the baseball world that doesn’t need minor league seasoning and can crack the major league roster immediately. One such player might be Puig. When you consider that he has years of experience in Cuba, perhaps he is prepped and ready to go. This is a kid that is playing as if his career depended on it. He hustles, and he works. He’s positive and he’s learning from mistakes. He’s willing to learn and he deals with the fans in a positive light.
Raw? Don’t we wish we were all that way at age 22. If that is raw, imagine what he’ll look like as a seasoned veteran.
Raw is good.