A.J. Puk
23-Year-Old PitcherRP
Oakland Athletics AA
Out
Injury Elbow
Est. Return 7/2/2019
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
$Signed a contract with the Athletics in June of 2016 that includes a $4.07 million signing bonus.
Ready for mound work
POakland Athletics  AA
Elbow
February 12, 2019
Puk (elbow) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Puk and Jharel Cotton (elbow) have both been cleared for mound work to begin the spring as the two hurlers work back from Tommy John surgery. Of the two, Puk appears to be the quicker healer, given that he's at the same place as Cotton in his rehab despite undergoing the elbow procedure one month later in 2018. Prior to requiring surgery last April, Puk was viewed as Oakland's top pitching prospect and was on track to earn a look in the big-league rotation, so he'll offer plenty of intrigue if he incurs no significant setbacks over the next few months. The Athletics are tentatively tabbing him for a mid-summer return and may have no qualms about bringing him on to the 25-man roster if he excels during what will likely be an extended minor-league rehab assignment.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2018
2017
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
Hopes for midseason return
POakland Athletics  AA
Elbow
February 10, 2019
Puk (elbow) is hoping to return around the midway point of the 2019 season, Julian McWilliams of The Athletic reports.
ANALYSIS
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Undergoes successful surgery
POakland Athletics  AA
Elbow
April 11, 2018
Puk (elbow) underwent successful Tommy John surgery Tuesday, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Recommended for Tommy John surgery
POakland Athletics  AA
Elbow
March 27, 2018
The A's announced Tuesday that Puk (elbow) has been recommended to undergo Tommy John surgery on his left arm, Julian McWilliams of The Athletic Bay Area reports.
ANALYSIS
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Potential elbow ligament issue
POakland Athletics  AA
Biceps
March 27, 2018
Puk (biceps) is seeing doctors about a potential issue with the ligament in his elbow, Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Shut down with biceps soreness
POakland Athletics  AA
Biceps
March 21, 2018
Puk was shut down with biceps soreness Wednesday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
ANALYSIS
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