2016 MLB Draft Scouting Report: A.J. Puk

By: Burke Granger

A.J. Puk – LHP – Florida.  6’7″ 230.  Class: Junior.  DOB:  April 25, 1995.  Last Drafted:  2013 (Detroit Tigers – 35th Round).

Scouted:  University of Florida @ University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.  March 26, 2016.

Baseball America ranked A.J. Puk as the 85th best prospect in the 2013 draft and the top prospect from the state of Iowa.  After a slow start in the cold Midwest spring, Puk slid to the 35th round where the Detroit Tigers took a flier on him.  Puk was joined by future Florida teammate Buddy Reed (Rangers), who was picked just 5 spots later in the same round.  The duo will likely be picked in the same round again this year, though it’ll be about 34 rounds higher than it was last time.

Along with Oklahoma’s Alec Hansen, Puk entered the season as either the #1 or #2 best college pitcher in the draft depending on the publication.  Both have stumbled out a bit out of the gate, but Hansen’s stock has dropped significantly further than Puk’s.

In what is a running theme among the top college arms, Puk needs to cut down on his walk rate, which was over 4 per 9 in each of his first two seasons, to become a front line starter.

Though long and lacking muscle tone, Puk isn’t a bad athlete.  Recruited as a two-way player, Puk did see 28 ABs as a freshman before concentrating on pitching as a sophomore.  He also played QB for his high school football team.

STATISTICS

*As of June 7, 2016.

YEAR

CLASS

W-L

ERA

G

S

IP

H

K

BB

2014

Fr.

5-2

3.35

19

1

40.1

33

44

18

2015

So.

9-4

3.81

17

0

78

59

104

35

2016

Jr.

2-3

3.21

15

0

70

50

95

31

It’s important to note that I’m not a scout.  I do however actually go to see these guys play live, which is more than you’ll get from many online “Scouting Reports”.  I also talk to scouts when I’m there.  While scouts reserve their reports for their employer, I can share my thoughts with you, the reader.

REPERTOIRE:

Fastball:  At his best, Puk sits 93-95 mph with his fastball and can touch 97 mph.  Coming from a downhill plane, Puk does an average job of locating to both sides of the plate.  He’s not afraid to pitch on the inner half of the plate, making this pitch nearly unhittable lefties when he locates it.

Slider:   Useful against righties and lefties alike, Puk’s slider doesn’t discriminate.  It it’s best, this pitch sweeps away from lefties while bitting down and in against righties.  The slider needs refinement to be a devastating out-pitch.

Changeup:  Puk can sometimes slow his delivery and arm motion when throwing his changeup.  This is currently Puk’s least impressive offering, and will need to improve if Puk is going to develop into a frontline starter.  When effective, the changeup shows nice fade and is a useful weapon against right-handed hitters.

DELIVERY:  Utilizing a high 3/4 delivery, Puk leverages his 6’7″ delivery nicely throw downhill.  Puk’s windup is similar to David Price, though he actually follows through better than Price.  Starting with his body turned sideways as if he’s in the stretch, Puk takes a small step backwards before pivoting and rocking forward.  These simple mechanics allow the big fella to repeat his delivery fairly well.

FUTURE:  As this report goes to press, Puk is the best prospect I’ve put eyes on in this class.  That means I place him ahead of Corey Ray, Buddy Reed, Alec Hansen, Ryan Reynolds and Jordan Sheffield.  While he may have been passed by prep lefty Jason Groome, I think Puk is a top 5 talent in this draft and will be selected as such.  Puk has #2 starter upside if he achieves some refinement of his command and of his secondary pitches in general.  I see some similarities between Puk and Andrew Miller.  It took Miller a move to the pen to figure it out, but he’s cut his walk rate dramatically since entering the League.

 

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3 thoughts on “2016 MLB Draft Scouting Report: A.J. Puk

  1. Pingback: MLB Draft Scouting Report: Joey Wentz | Prospect Junkies

  2. Pingback: 2016 MLB Draft Scouting Report: Logan Shore | Prospect Junkies

  3. Pingback: Live Blogging the 2016 MLB Draft | Prospect Junkies

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