A's Top Prospect Ranking: Why A.J. Puk Comes in at No. 2 Overall

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine the top 10 prospects in the A's organization. For each player, we will provide a scouting report and a realistic timetable for reaching the major leagues, as well as what he needs to do to stay there.

No. 2 - A.J. Puk

At 6-foot-7, Puk is quite the intimidating figure on the mound. Add in the fact that he's left-handed and throws 100 mph, and the A's have something special.
Puk, 24, made his major league debut in August and pitched 11 1/3 innings in relief down the stretch. He allowed four earned runs on 10 hits, with 13 strikeouts and five walks.
Overall, it was an encouraging season for Puk, who was coming off Tommy John surgery. He struck out 51 batters in 36 2/3 innings between the majors and minors, and most importantly, didn't suffer any setbacks.
Oakland drafted Puk sixth overall back in 2016 after a stellar career at the University of Florida. Puk's fastball-slider combination can be nearly unhittable, with MLB Pipeline grading the pitches at 70 and 65 respectively on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Puk will move to the starting rotation in 2020, where he'll contribute to arguably the best pitching staff in baseball. Puk will likely be joined by fellow southpaws Jesús Luzardo and Sean Manaea, as well as right-handers Frankie Montas, and Mike Fiers. Chris Bassitt could also play a role in the rotation.
As for Puk, the key next season will be his control. He averaged four walks per nine innings this year between the majors and minors. Puk throws a changeup and curveball, in addition to his fastball and slider, to create a true four-pitch mix. If he can locate his offspeed pitches with more consistency, he should dominate opposing lineups.

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If and when Puk puts it all together, he has the potential to be a perennial All-Star. He and Luzardo have an opportunity to become an elite tandem in Oakland for many years to come.

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