With their #1 pick in the 2016 amateur draft, the A’s selected a University of Florida junior for the second year in a row. Last year, it was Gators shortstop Richie Martin, and this year it was LHP A.J. Puk. Baseball America had recently ranked the big lefty as the top overall pick in the draft, so the A’s have to consider themselves fortunate to still find him available to them with the 6th overall pick in the draft.
Puk is a 6-foot-7, 230 lb., 21-year-old power pitcher whose fastball has been clocked as high as 99 mph. He pairs it with a solid slider, but his changeup is still considered to be something of a work in progress. His command has also been spotty at times, and the Iowa native walked a total of 84 batters in 188 innings during his 3-year collegiate career. This season, Puk walked 31 and struck out 95 while posting a 3.21 ERA over 70 innings of work for Florida.
The last time the A’s took a pitcher with their top pick in the draft was 2011 when the team took RHP Sonny Gray. Like Gray, Puk is considered to have the talent to be a potential top-of-the-rotation starter. And if he develops as hoped, along with Gray and fellow lefty Sean Manaea, Puk could be a part of a talented trio atop the A’s starting rotation in years to come.
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