Rich Puig: The Mets 1971 Number One Draft Pick (1974)

Richard Gerald Puig was born March 16, 1953, in Tampa Florida. 

The five foot ten, infielder was still attending Tampa’s Hillsboro High School in 1971, when he was selected by the New York Mets as their number one draft pick (14th pick overall). The next player selected that year was Jim Rice the 15th overall pick, chosen by the Boston Red Sox. 

The left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing Puig, was more known as a solid fielder rather than a hitter.

In 1972, Puig reported to A ball- Pompano Beach playing in the Florida League batting .272 while stealing 11 bases. 

In 1973 Puig batted .292 with 14 HRs at A ball Visalia, but he would never hit that high for average or power again. Later that year he was promoted to AA Memphis & his average fell off to .208. He began 1974 at AA Victoria and was promoted to AAA Tidewater that same year. He hit .258 while posting a .964 fielding % there & got his cup of coffee that September.

Mets Career: On September 13th, 1974, Puig made his MLB debut at Shea Stadium in a game
against the Chicago Cubs. He came up as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning, of the second game of a Twi-night double header & struck out. 

Puig got his first start on September 14th, playing at second base. He would make three starts overall, playing in four games that September. 

On September 18th in a 4-0 loss at Montreal, he went 0-1 & drew a walk, the only time he ever reached base.

In September, he played three games at second base, Puig made one error & turned two double posting a .923 fielding percentage. He also played one game at third base. 

In 1975 & 1976 Puig spent the seasons in the Chicago White Sox minors at AA Knoxville. He never made it back to the big leagues. He is remembered as one of those early seventies “Future Stars” yearbook guys, who never quite made it.

Retirement: Rich also known as Rick, later became a high school baseball coach.

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