Player: A.J. Puk
Drafted by: Detroit Tigers (No. 1,056 overall)
DOB: 4/25/1995 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6'6"/205 lbs
School: Washington HS (Iowa)
College Commitment: Florida
A.J. Puk is one of the better two-way prospects in this draft class, though his future clearly lies on the mound. With the bat in his hands, he can show some power, but his overall skill set in that regard is lacking.
As a pitcher, Puk is a top-100 player in this class. He is a tall lefty who can generate plus velocity on his fastball and gets good plane on the pitch. His commitment to the University of Florida, one of the best programs in the country, could make him a difficult sign.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is average, with the current score first and projected score second.
Very projectable 6'6" frame; a little too trim right now but will fill out naturally in the next few years; excellent angle on fastball makes him a strong candidate to be taken early on the second day; long limbs do make it harder to repeat delivery, though there is nothing alarming about his mechanics that would lead to arm or shoulder problems; gets out front very well, good stride to the plate and good arm speed on fastball.
Fastball has taken a hit this season, though Midwest weather isn't exactly pitcher-friendly early in high school year; has been clocked up to 92 to 93 with heater in the past; three-quarters arm angle and plane give pitch good sinking life; should end up being a plus offering when frame fills out and velocity ticks up.
Breaking ball is not an effective weapon, nor does it project to be in the future; still learning to harness pitch and inability to repeat delivery gives it inconsistent shape; arm angle could make it difficult to get good consistent break on the pitch.
Solid offering that will get better as his body fills out and mechanics get more consistent; changeup has solid fade down in the zone; will be second-best pitch in professional baseball; enough separation from fastball and good arm speed to keep hitters off balance.
Loses release point too often; struggles to throw strikes consistently but stays around the zone enough to succeed right now; will have to adjust to his body in the future, though that is often the case with taller pitchers.
An optimistic guess, but Puk shows enough stuff and has a good delivery that he can learn to command at least two of his pitches; won't have elite command but should be good enough to have an effective career; command could play better in short relief role.
MLB Player Comparison: Left-handed Justin Masterson
Projection: Back-end starter in first-division rotation.
MLB ETA: 2018
Chances of Signing: 70%
Despite being committed to Florida, one of the premier teams in the country, Puk seems likely to take his talents to the next level when he gets drafted. His upside, especially as a left-handed pitcher, makes him too valuable for teams to let get away.
Think of Puk as being a bit of a poor man's Trey Ball. He isn't quite the athlete that the Indiana lefty is, but he has projection left and is already showing excellent velocity from the left side.