A.J. Puk
24-Year-Old PitcherRP
Oakland Athletics AAA
Injury Elbow
Est. Return 8/5/2019
2019 Fantasy Outlook
The 6-foot-7 lefty was the talk of A's camp early last spring and appeared primed to spend most of the year in the big-league rotation. But then a ligament injury surfaced and the worst-case scenario was realized, with Dr. James Andrews recommending Tommy John surgery. Puk underwent the procedure April 10 and would seem to stand a good chance to make his big-league debut in 2019, though perhaps not until June or July. The scouting report on Puk: high-90s heat and a wipeout slider, both potential plus-plus offerings at maturity. He can also spin a curveball and change speeds with fringe-average command -- the total package here has clear frontline potential. The strikeout upside is through the roof and the Ks should make it easier to stomach some of the inevitable bumps in the road. Puk is not really in the mix for redraft leagues outside of draft-and-hold formats, but it's worth saving a chunk of FAAB for when he's ready. Read Past Outlooks
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$Signed a contract with the Athletics in June of 2016 that includes a $4.07 million signing bonus.
Grabs win in Vegas
POakland Athletics  AAA
July 23, 2019
Puk (elbow) was credited with the win in Triple-A Las Vegas' victory over El Paso on Tuesday, firing two scoreless innings in which he allowed a hit and recorded two strikeouts.
Puk's Triple-A debut was a successful one, with the left-hander throwing 13 of his 17 pitches for strikes in a highly efficient outing. Puk is expected to join the big-league bullpen come August; therefore, he's likely to see a handful of outings of similar duration to Tuesday's in coming days with the Aviators in preparation for such a role.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
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 has everything the scouts look for in a pitching prospect: tremendous raw stuff with tons of projectability on a big frame. It doesn't hurt that he's a southpaw. Indeed, Puk was rumored to be in the mix to go No. 1 overall in June but ended up falling to the A's with the sixth pick. His initial run in short-season ball was impressive, with his 3.31 BB/9 rate representing perhaps the most encouraging stat as a lack of command and control was his biggest knock coming out of the University of Florida. Of course, given his age and level, we won't truly know if he has made significant strides in that department until he receives a couple promotions. His fastball was sitting in the mid-90s and continues to grade as a borderline plus-plus pitch, while his slider and changeup will both need to jump a grade for him to profile atop a rotation. Turning 22 in April, Puk likely will receive a full-season assignment early on in 2017, and it would not be a surprise if the A's took an aggressive, sink-or-swim approach to his development in the coming seasons.
More Fantasy News
Final step before joining majors
POakland Athletics  AAA
July 21, 2019
Puk (elbow) will be promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, Melissa Lockard of The Athletic reports. Puk is expected to join Oakland's bullpen in August, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
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Inconsistent in rehab assignment
POakland Athletics  AAA
July 15, 2019
Puk (elbow) owns a 5.56 ERA and 1.59 WHIP across 11.1 innings over seven rehab appearances.
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August majors debut likely
POakland Athletics  AAA
June 24, 2019
Puk (elbow), who recorded two strikeouts and allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits and two walks across two innings in High-A Stockton's win over San Jose on Friday, is projected to make his major-league debut sometime in August, Martin Gallegos of MLB.com reports.
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Likely one more outing at High-A
POakland Athletics  AAA
June 19, 2019
Puk (elbow), who allowed an earned run on a solo home run over two innings in High-A Stockton's win over Modesto on Sunday, likely will remain with the Ports for at least one more start, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
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Solid in first rehab start
POakland Athletics  AAA
June 11, 2019
Puk (elbow) started High-A Stockton's win over San Jose on Tuesday, recording four strikeouts while allowing an earned run on a solo home run across two innings. He also issued one walk.
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