A's announce their top pitching prospect A.J. Puk needs Tommy John surgery

The Athletics announced Tuesday evening that top pitching prospect A.J. Puk has visited Dr. James Andrews regarding an injury to his left (pitching) elbow, and the recommendation is that he undergo Tommy John surgery. 

Assuming Puk elects to go through with the procedure, it puts to an end his 2018 season before it even begins. The 2019 season would be impacted as well. 

Puk, 22, was the A's first-round pick (sixth overall) out of the University of Florida in 2016. He's 6-foot-7, lanky and has long hair, looking like a young Randy Johnson up there -- no one should ever compare a prospect in ability to a Hall of Famer, I'm just saying the look is similar. 

Last year, Puk worked 61 innings in High-A ball (3.69 ERA) and 64 in Double-A (4.03 ERA). In all, he struck out 184 hitters in 125 innings while allowing only three home runs. He could stand to cut down on the walks, but the raw stuff is certainly there. 

In fact, it looked like Puk had a shot to enter the A's rotation at some point this season, should things progress well in Triple-A. That's obviously no longer the case, unfortunately.

The A's rotation depth will now be put to the test this season, as right-hander Jharel Cotton underwent Tommy John surgery on March 21. 

Heading into the season, the A's rotation will be Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Gossett, Daniel Mengden and Andrew Triggs. There's some talent in there, but looking ahead to a potential stretch-run rotation, the biggest upside came with a healthy and effective Puk taking a spot. 

Instead, they might have to turn to veterans who signed minor-league deals during camp. Both are former A's, too, in righty Trevor Cahill and southpaw Brett Anderson

The A's still have a roster capable of surprising some and contending this season, but losing Puk certainly takes some of the shine away. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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