Oakland A’s starting pitcher A.J. Puk will start the season on the injured list with a strained shoulder, the team announced yesterday. Puk, who was expected to be the team’s fifth starter, will be replaced in the rotation by Daniel Mengden.
Puk, a 25 year old 6’7” left hander, was the sixth overall pick in the 2016 draft out of the University of Florida. After a solid 2018 season between high-A and AA, Puk was seen as a top 30-40 prospect in baseball heading into spring training, and seemed likely to make his major league debut at some point that season. Tommy John surgery ended up sidelining him for all of 2018, however, and he missed much of 2019, although he did pitch in ten games in relief out of the major league pen.
The loss of Puk is a blow for Oakland, the team seen as having the best shot at dethroning the Houston Astros atop the A.L. West. He is a guy who has the potential to be an impact starter, and at this point it sounds unlikely he will pitch in a regular season game in 2020.