A.J. Puk's 184 strikeouts ranked third in the minors last season, and he logged almost 20 fewer innings than the two pitchers ahead of him (Alec Hansen and Triston McKenzie). The big 6-foot-7 lefty, who was the first college pitcher to come off the board in 2016, dominated hitters while splitting time evenly at High-A and Double-A. His upper-90s fastball and wipeout slider both have the potential to be 70-grade offerings by the time he reaches the majors. His command and control were seen as fringe average when he was coming out of the University of Florida, and while he has made strides, Puk still struggles at times to locate his pitches, as do most young pitchers. His changeup and curveball are not in the same class as his fastball and slider, which is why he can struggle the third time through the lineup. His 2.35 FIP at Double-A was the worst mark of his career, and he has given up just three home runs in 157.2 innings, so he may not get a true challenge until he reaches the big leagues, perhaps as early as this summer.
Puk will attend the Athletics' spring training as a non-roster invitee, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. Puk -- who is widely considered one of the top minor-league arms in baseball -- will attend his second big-league spring training with the A's this year after being selected sixth overall in the 2016 draft. The southpaw posted a 4.36 ERA (2.35 FIP) with a strong 30.8 percent strikeout rate over 64 innings with Double-A Midland after advancing from High-A Stockton in June. The 22-year-old is a must-own in dynasty formats and has a chance to make his big-league debut this summer.
Puk (2-3) allowed an earned run on five hits and two walks over six innings for Double-A Midland against Arkansas on Sunday. He struck out seven. Puk continues to find his way at Double-A, as he's now lowered his ERA in four consecutive starts. The 22-year-old has put together a 68:23 K:BB over 51.1 innings with the RockHounds, and according to William Boor of MLB.com, he's now given up three earned runs or less in six straight consecutive starts.
Puk, 22, struck out 13 batters last Thursday in a start for Double-A Midland. Since being promoted from High-A Stockton, Puk has amassed a 46:19 K:BB in 35 innings. He has been a tad wilder at this level, though his strikeout stuff clearly remains. The 6-foot-7 southpaw should vie for a rotation slot in 2018.
Puk allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk over two-thirds of an inning during Team USA's 7-6 win over Team World in Sunday's All-Star Futures Game. The 22-year-old southpaw made things interesting in the ninth by allowing Team World to get to within 7-6 before getting Mauricio Dubon on a game-ending groundout. Double-A bats have been getting the best of Puk over his first three starts with Midland, as he's allowed nine earned runs on 11 hits and nine walks over 13.1 innings. However, given his body of work in his first two stops with the organization -- including his 150 strikeouts over just 107 minor-league frames -- Puk figures to turn things around in the second half of the season.
Puk was chosen as the Athletics' sole representative at the All-Star Futures Game in Miami on July 9, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. The towering southpaw was recently promoted to Double-A Midland and allowed three runs across seven innings in his RockHounds debut on June 19. While he was hit hard in his next start (four earned runs in one-third of an inning), Puk has impressed since being taken sixth overall in the 2016 MLB Draft, compiling an eye-popping 146 strikeouts in 101 minor-league innings along with a .197 BAA and 1.13 WHIP.
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