Press "Enter" to skip to content

Prospect Puk reminds A’s of Hall of Famer

Two years ago, a can’t-miss prospect with shaggy hair came to A’s camp. The towering lefty drew fervent whispers. Big crowds flanked his bullpen sessions.

Sean Manaea has since graduated to the big leagues. The “Samo-fro” is gone, and the 26-year-old is now readying to team up with Kendall Graveman at the top of Oakland’s jerseys rotation. In the meantime, another young southpaw has entered the scene. He, too, stands tall. His locks are also long.

Manaea hasn’t gotten much of a look at A’s top pitching prospect A.J. Puk, but that will change soon. The 6-foot-7 Puk, whose long blonde hair tucks neatly behind his ears, figures to get ample exposure in his second big league camp. By season’s end, he could be in the rotation with Manaea.

“I would think, yeah. He would have to push the envelope, go down and do really well and push his way here,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “That’s kind of the way we look at things, anyway.”

All eyes were on Puk, Oakland’s No. 2-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, when he arranged himself on the six pack of mounds at Fitch Park for his first bullpen session Thursday. The 22-year-old showcased smooth mechanics that produce an easy delivery and not-so-easy-to-hit stuff.

Jose Altuve Houston Astros Majestic Women's Cool Base Player Jersey
Jose Altuve Houston Astros Majestic Women’s Cool Base Player Jersey

Puk used his first full professional season to expand his repertoire, becoming a four-pitch threat with help from A’s Minor League pitching coordinator Gil Patterson cheap Athletics jerseys. Puk, who a year ago relied almost exclusively on his fastball and slider, brought back his curveball and added a changeup to the mix.

Along the way, though, he soaked up knowledge from a group of veteran relievers that included Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle, John Axford and Santiago Casilla.

“I learned a lot being around those guys in the bullpen,” said Montas, who will turn 25 in March. “I was struggling, but I learned a lot. I was behind in the count a lot, and my fastball command wasn’t as good as it was in Spring Training, and this year that’s my goal, to establish my fastball and china MLB  jerseys wholesale for a strike every time. It all starts with my fastball.”

Montas made strides in his final few starts with Nashville, building up to four innings in five consecutive starts and striking out 20 next to just three walks, before an oblique injury prematurely ended his season in August.

For Montas to succeed as a starter, polishing his secondary pitches will be just as important as honing his command. He’s also down in weight and is feeling more energized than ever, shedding 10 pounds this winter.

“He certainly has the stuff to be a high-end starter,” Melvin said. “I think it was just an up-and-down year for him. He had some failures that he hasn’t had to experience before. He had some injuries. But it hasn’t affected the way we feel about him.”

While the A’s desire for bullpen help was well-documented, they were seemingly set elsewhere, calling into question Moss’ place on this roster Athletics MLB jerseys for sale. He spent the bulk of the 2017 season in the DH spot for Kansas City, a role is expected to assume most days. Moss, of course, played a lot of first base during his first tenure with the A’s, now home to Matt Olson. The outfield is also crowded, so his second tour in Oakland could potentially be brief.

“It’s not entirely clear how he would fit into our 25-man roster at this time,” Forst said. “We’ll see how it plays out the next couple of months. Brandon is a great guy to have cheap MLB  jerseys online around. I’ve already heard from a number of people who are excited to have him back, and he’s equally excited to be back. He knows it’s not an obvious fit, but we had a great conversation.”

Moss, who hit .207 with 22 home runs and 50 RBIs in 118 games last year, enjoyed a breakout year with the A’s in 2012, his first of three seasons with them. Oakland made the postseason each of those years, before Moss was dealt to Cleveland in a December 2014 trade for infielder Joey Wendle, who was traded to Tampa Bay this winter.

The 34-year-old has one year remaining on a two-year, $12 million deal that will see him take home $7.25 million this season. As part of Monday’s deal, the A’s received $3.25 million to offset the remaining dollars on his contract, which also included a $1 million buyout.

Hahn, who is out of options, finishes his A’s career 11-16 with a 4.57 ERA in 39 games (38 starts), his best stretch coming in 2015, when he pitched to a 3.35 ERA in his first 16 starts, before injury prematurely ended his season. Hahn has since been shuffled back and forth from Triple-A.

“It was an up-and-down ride here for Jesse, and a lot of times through no fault of his own MLB jerseys wholesale,” Forst said. “He worked hard to stay out on the field and a number of different injuries cropped up. He ran into some bad injury luck, but he did bust it to try to get out there and we appreciate that.”

Fillmyer, the A’s fifth-round selection in the 2014 Draft, was 22-24 with a 3.78 ERA in 84 games, including 75 starts, in four Minor League seasons in the organization.