Athletics

A's top prospect ranking: Why A.J. Puk comes in at No. 2 overall

A's top prospect ranking: Why A.J. Puk comes in at No. 2 overall

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine the top 10 prospects in the A's organization. For each player, we will provide a scouting report and a realistic timetable for reaching the major leagues, as well as what he needs to do to stay there.

No. 2 - A.J. Puk

At 6-foot-7, Puk is quite the intimidating figure on the mound. Add in the fact that he's left-handed and throws 100 mph, and the A's have something special.
 
Puk, 24, made his major league debut in August and pitched 11 1/3 innings in relief down the stretch. He allowed four earned runs on 10 hits, with 13 strikeouts and five walks.
 
Overall, it was an encouraging season for Puk, who was coming off Tommy John surgery. He struck out 51 batters in 36 2/3 innings between the majors and minors, and most importantly, didn't suffer any setbacks.
 
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Oakland drafted Puk sixth overall back in 2016 after a stellar career at the University of Florida. Puk's fastball-slider combination can be nearly unhittable, with MLB Pipeline grading the pitches at 70 and 65 respectively on the 20-80 scouting scale.
 
Puk will move to the starting rotation in 2020, where he'll contribute to arguably the best pitching staff in baseball. Puk will likely be joined by fellow southpaws Jesús Luzardo and Sean Manaea, as well as right-handers Frankie Montas, and Mike Fiers. Chris Bassitt could also play a role in the rotation.
 
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As for Puk, the key next season will be his control. He averaged four walks per nine innings this year between the majors and minors. Puk throws a changeup and curveball, in addition to his fastball and slider, to create a true four-pitch mix. If he can locate his offspeed pitches with more consistency, he should dominate opposing lineups.

[RELATED: Blake Treinen could be non-tender candidate]
 
If and when Puk puts it all together, he has the potential to be a perennial All-Star. He and Luzardo have an opportunity to become an elite tandem in Oakland for many years to come.

A's top pick Logan Davidson among spring training non-roster invitees

A's top pick Logan Davidson among spring training non-roster invitees

The A's aren't playing it safe with 2019 first-round draft pick Logan Davidson.

The No. 29 overall pick is among 10 non-roster players the A's invited to spring training Friday.

Davidson, a shortstop, isn't on the A's 40-man roster, but the invite will give him a chance to compete in big league camp. Barring an incredible showing in the Cactus League, the A's No. 7 prospect won't break camp with the A's. But this opportunity allows him to try to impress A's coaches.

In 54 games with the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters, Davidson slashed .239/.345/.332 with seven doubles, four homers and 12 RBI.

[RELATED: A's compare Davidson to Corey Seager]

The other invitee to keep an eye on in camp is A's No. 6 prospect Nick Allen. While small in stature, the middle infielder is an incredible defensive player and could find himself playing for the A's at some point in 2020. While Marcus Semien is blocking Allen's path at shortstop, the 21-year-old could get a look at second base if none of the other in-house options pan out for Oakland.

Three other top-30 prospects were invited to spring training: Outfielder Greg Deichmann (No. 17), right-handed pitcher Brian Howard (No. 22) and right-handed pitcher Parker Dunshee (No. 24).

MLB rumors: A's 'showing interest' in free-agent reliever Sergio Romo

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AP

MLB rumors: A's 'showing interest' in free-agent reliever Sergio Romo

Sergio Romo might be headed back to the Bay Area -- just to the opposite side.

The former Giants relief pitcher is a free agent, and according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, the A's reportedly are interested in acquiring his services.

Romo, 36, is a 12-year veteran who spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Giants, playing a major role in helping San Francisco win three World Series titles in a span of five years. Over 60 1/3 combined innings with the Marlins and Twins last season, he posted a 3.43 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 60 strikeouts and 20 saves.

[RELATED: How Forst thinks state of free-agent market will impact A's]

Liam Hendricks has Oakland's closer spot locked down, but with Blake Treinen being non-tendered, there could be one or more openings in the A's bullpen. Given that Romo has filled just about every possible role within a major league bullpen over the course of his career, he could be an ideal fit if the price is right.