A's to call up Puk for big league debut

No. 43 overall prospect joining Oakland bullpen on Tuesday

A.J. Puk struck out 16 batters over 11 innings during his time with Triple-A Las Vegas. (Jerry Espinoza/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | August 19, 2019 1:45 PM

With Tommy John surgery behind him, lefty A.J. Puk is ready for The Show.

The A's will call up their No. 2 prospect (No. 43 overall) on Tuesday for his Major League debut, according to MLB.com's Martín Gallegos. Oakland has the day off Monday before beginning a three-game home series against the Yankees at Oakland Coliseum.

Puk, who was used as a starter the first two years of his career, has primarily worked out of the bullpen this season as he returns from the elbow surgery that knocked him out for the entire 2018 campaign.

Video: RockHounds' Puk goes 98 for K

Puk returned to the mound June 11 with Class A Advanced Stockton and after brief stints there and at Double-A Midland, he moved up to Triple-A Las Vegas on July 23. The 24-year-old left-hander has made nine relief appearances in the Pacific Coast League, giving up six earned runs on seven hits and three walks while fanning 16 over 11 innings. He struck out 36.4 percent of the batters he faced in the Pacific Coast League.

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Taken with the sixth overall pick in the 2016 Draft out of the University of Florida, Puk has premium stuff. His fastball regularly reaches the upper-90s even after his surgery. His slider is also considered a potential plus-plus pitch, while his changeup receives above-average grades. That type of arsenal could ultimately earn him a prominent role in the Oakland rotation, but for now, it should work well in shorter stints out of the A's bullpen.

The Iowa native joins the Major League roster at a critical time. The A's sit 1 1/2 games behind the Rays for the second Wild Card spot in the American League. The Oakland bullpen collectively ranks sixth in the Majors with a 4.01 ERA, though it is also tied for fifth with 22 blown saves, and Puk will potentially join Jake Diekman, Ryan Buchter and Wei-Chung Wang as left-handed options, depending on the corresponding move needed to add the rookie to the 25-man roster.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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