The last time the Oakland A's used their top pick on a pitcher, they selected an SEC ace: Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray. Now the A's have gone back to the SEC for another starter, this time Florida starter A.J. Puk. Puk, who many had connected to the number one pick for much of the pre-draft period, had an inconsistent junior season for the Gators, but the 6'6'' left-hander has number one starter stuff if he can overcome his command issues.
Puk had a 3.21 ERA in 70 innings for Florida this year. He struck-out 95 (12.21 per nine innings), but he walked 31 and those command issues kept him from pitching deep into games this season. Puk also battled a minor back injury that shelved him briefly during the season.
A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Puk came to Florida as a two-way player who was more of a position player than a pitcher, so there is still some rawness to his delivery. Puk's fastball can be a special pitch. He sits 93-96 and has been clocked as high as 99. He also has a slider and a change-up and both pitches show promise as big league out-pitches.
Puk turned 21 in April. He was teammates with A's 2015 first-round pick Richie Martin in 2014 and 2015.
More on the A's selection of Puk as the night goes on.