What was initially deemed a minor issue has turned into something worse for A.J. Puk.
The A's said Tuesday that Dr. James Andrews has recommended Tommy John surgery for their top prospect to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Puk was shut down last Wednesday after he reportedly experienced left biceps soreness following his Cactus League start on March 18. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported earlier Tuesday there was concern the soreness might be related to possible ligament damage.
Offseason MiLB include
Although Puk wasn't expected to break camp with the team, the news comes as a blow to the A's, who will likely be without his services until 2019 at the earliest. Should MLB.com's No. 32 overall prospect have his elbow repaired, the southpaw would become the second Oakland hurler in less than a week to need Tommy John surgery. Right-hander Jharel Cotton underwent the procedure last Thursday.
Puk had been enjoying an impressive spring prior to being sidelined. Puk did not allow a run over his first three appearances spanning eight innings. The 22-year-old surrendered four runs in his final inning of work, and according to scouts, his velocity dipped to 93-94 mph in his last start after he was consistently clocked at 97-98 earlier in camp.
"The strides that he's made to get to where he is right now have been very significant," A's manager Bob Melvin recently told MLB.com. "It's just, when you're skipping steps and you haven't had that much time really at the Double-A level, let alone the Triple-A level, you just worry about where you go with him, so we want to make sure he catches all these levels and is that much more prepared once he gets here."
Puk was the sixth overall pick out of the University of Florida in the 2016 Draft. He broke out in a big way last season, ranking third in the Minors with 184 strikeouts in 125 innings. The Iowa native went 6-10 with a 4.03 ERA in 27 appearances, including 24 starts, with Class A Advanced Modesto and Double-A Midland.
Puk was expected to begin the season with Triple-A Nashville.