A.J. Puk lives up to the hype in Cactus League debut

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MESA, Ariz. — A’s manager Bob Melvin joked before that the only way pitching phenom A.J. Puk was going to make a good first impression on the team was if he managed to strike out every batter out he faced.

He only registered one strikeout, but Puk was impressive nonetheless.

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Making his first start of the spring, Puk, 22, was efficiently dominant as he needed just 20 pitches to get through two perfect innings in Sunday’s 4-4 tie against the Royals.

“I think the most impressive thing for me is the poise he has on the mound and the ability to throw strikes with any of his pitches,” Melvin said. “His changeup, for a guy that maybe that was an issue earlier in his career, it certainly is not right now.”

The A’s had already been impressed with Puk’s live arm on the mound last spring, but now back in big league camp having added a two-seam fastball and curveball to an already impressive four-seam fastball and slider, Puk is only getting better at a rapid pace.

“It’s gonna make the four-seamer even better,” Melvin said. “With that mix of pitches, he’s gonna be tough to think along with.”

Bob Melvin on AJ Puk’s impressive spring debut pic.twitter.com/M9wktd9PJt

— Martin Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) February 25, 2018

Puk rarely shows any emotion, but even he admitted to feeling a little anxiety before Sunday’s start.

The tall left-hander, who Melvin compared to Randy Johnson earlier this spring, quickly settled those nerves in a hurry as he needed only eight pitches to get through the first inning.

Even with a seemingly flawless spring debut, Puk still found an area to improve on.

“My slider was not quite where I wanted it to be,” Puk said. “But I was happy …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

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