It has been four long years since the last time A.J. Puk felt healthy. After his solid showing in 2017, the expectation was that the Oakland A’s prospect would make his major league debut at some point in the coming year. However, Tommy John surgery set those plans back.
While Puk made his major league debut in 2019, he still did not feel right. Those issues came to a head during spring training, as he felt discomfort in his shoulder. Puk’s shoulder woes were a problem throughout the season, as he continually would start up only to get shut down again. He never made his way back to the major league mound last year, putting his future in question.
A.J. Puk finally ready to be unleashed by Oakland A’s
But that has changed. Since his most recent surgery to clean out his shoulder, Puk has begun to feel like his former self. He is now healthy, and ready for the Oakland A’s to unleash him upon the league.
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Puk showed a measure of his promise during his major league debut. He allowed four runs on ten hits and five walks in his 11.1 innings, striking out 13 batters. That came on the heels of his solid showing in the minors, where his 4.97 ERA belied a strong 1.224 WHiP and 38 strikeouts in 25.1 innings.
In many ways, Puk is the A’s biggest wild card entering the upcoming season. He has the potential to be a top of the rotation arm or a key part of the A’s bullpen depending on his health. His high octane fastball and devasting slider would make him a devastating option in relief, and his solid changeup makes him an intriguing possibility as a starter.
Regardless of his role for the coming year, the A’s are going to be cautious with Puk. The last thing they need is to extend him too quickly, resulting in yet another injury. Puk will be a factor, but it may take some time before he is truly able to show what he can be.
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What is important is that A.J. Puk is finally healthy and ready to go. The Oakland A’s will be able to unleash their prized prospect in 2021.