Cesar Puello didn’t have to wait long for another chance in the major leagues.
Two days after the Los Angeles Angels had designated him for assignment, the Miami Marlins swooped in and acquired the newly available outfielder on Wednesday in exchange for cash considerations.
Puello, a 28-year-old from the Dominican Republic with 12 years of professional baseball experience but has played just 30 career games at the MLB level, is not taking it for granted.
“I was happy for a new opportunity,” Puello said. “You always have to be thankful for the opportunity. I’m here to help the team any way I can.”
For the Marlins, that means tapping in to his ability to get on base and to play consistent defense in the outfield. He makes his first start for the Marlins in Thursday’s series finale with the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. He is batting seventh and playing right field.
Puello was a career .290 hitter in the minors, with 75 home runs and 411 RBI over 871 games. In a small sample size at the MLB level, he is hitting .303 (23 for 76) with three home runs, three doubles, 15 RBI and 12 runs scored. All six extra-base hits came with the Angels this season before they designated him for assignment.
“I make it simple,” Puello said. “I just try to work hard.”
One of Puello’s biggest strengths: His speed. The outfielder average sprint speed, defined by Statcast in average feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window, is 28.7 feet per second. That ranks 45th among all MLB players with at least 25 competitive runs this year. The Marlins have two other players on the active roster ranked in the top 50 in MLB in outfielder Harold Ramirez (30th) and catcher Jorge Alfaro (33rd). Marlins utility player Jon Berti (on the 10-day injured list) is fourth in the league. Lewis Brinson was 24th in MLB before being optioned to Triple A New Orleans.
“With Cesar, it’s a situation for us to ask, ‘How do we get incrementally better?’” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We felt like this opportunity came up with what happened in Anaheim and their roster. We were able to rethink it a little bit better.”
The Marlins designated outfielder/first baseman Peter O’Brien for assignment and optioned right-handed relief pitcher Jeff Brigham to Triple A New Orleans pre-game Thursday. Both moves were made in order to add starting pitcher Zac Gallen to the overall 40-man roster and the 25-man active roster ahead of his MLB debut against the Cardinals.
Brigham made six relief appearance for the Marlins since being called up on May 30, giving up five earned runs on eight hits and six walks while striking out 11 in 7 2/3 innings of work.
O’Brien, who has been on the 10-day injured list since May 11 with a bruised left ribcage, hit .167 with one home run, four RBI and 19 strikeouts in 42 at-bats over 11 games with the Marlins this season.
▪ Starting pitcher Pablo Lopez’s MRI on Wednesday revealed that he has a right-shoulder strain. He is recommended to have rest and therapy for the time being. Lopez was placed on the 10-day IL on Wednesday.
“It seems like it was generally pretty good news,” Mattingly said. “Giving him a little bit of rest and then building him back up. In general, we didn’t see anything that would make us go ‘Oh no.’ We feel pretty good about that.”
▪ First baseman Garrett Cooper is back in the starting lineup after sitting out Wednesday’s 2-1, 12-inning loss to the Cardinals with sore left triceps.