While the big leagues are on a break for the All-Star Game, excitement is brewing down on the Oakland A's farm. All the way across the country in Vermont, first-round pick A.J. Puk will make his professional debut for the Low-A Lake Monsters on Tuesday. The left-hander was the No. 6 overall pick in the entire draft and signed for more than $4 million, so there will be a lot of curious eyes on this game. He is now one of the A's top five prospects, if not top three.
It's been a month since the draft, so here's a refresher on who Puk is. The 6'7 lefty out of Florida operates in the mid-90s with his fastball and has reportedly topped out at 99 mph. He also throws a slider and a change. His stuff isn't really the question, but rather his command of it, and that's what he'll have to figure out to realize his huge potential.
Of course, as much fun as it is to get hyped up about a big debut, it's important to remember that it's just one start. If he dominates, there's still a lot of work to do to reach Oakland, and if he gets shelled then it won't be the end of the world. Just strike out lots of fools and I'll be happy, kid.
How to follow A.J. Puk's pro debut
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P.S. This means that Puk and Dakota Chalmers are now in the same rotation together. This Vermont team is getting interesting quickly!
P.P.S. I'll have a full Vermont update on Wednesday, with a recap of Puk's outing and a quick look at the rest of the team. The update for Tuesday afternoon will be Double-A Midland.