The Midland RockHounds will be without one of their big weapons in the Texas League finals against the Tulsa Drillers. Left-hander A.J. Puk, who started Game One of the semi-final series, has been shutdown for the year after “tweaking” his left forearm during that start. He won’t pitch in the A’s fall Instructional League either.
A’s Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman says shutting down Puk is precautionary. The A’s believe the injury is minor, but they don’t want to risk further injury after he threw 129 innings between the regular season and the post-season in his first full professional campaign. Puk didn’t miss a turn during the regular season, making 27 appearances between High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. He finished the regular season with a 4.03 ERA and a 184:48 K:BB in 125 innings. He struck-out eight in four shutout innings in his post-season start.
With Joel Seddon moving into the RockHounds’ rotation for Game Five of the semi-final series, Midland will add reliever Nolan Blackwood from Stockton for the finals. Blackwood has also been added to the A’s Arizona Fall League contingent. He joins Sean Murphy, Tyler Ramirez and Logan Shore as members of the A’s 2016 draft class going to the AFL.
The sidearming Blackwood served as the Ports’ closer during his first full professional season. He made 44 appearances for the Ports and had a 3.00 ERA in 57 innings. He converted 19-of-20 save opportunities and struck-out 48 while walking 18. Blackwood held Cal League batters to a .205 average and he posted a 3.00 GO/AO. He allowed just two homeruns. Right-handed hitters batted just .167 against Blackwood this season.
Midland’s final roster for the Texas League finals won’t be official until noon on Tuesday. It isn’t yet known whether B.J. Boyd will be back from family leave to re-join the team for the finals. Ports’ outfielder Skye Bolt will be available to join the Midland roster if Boyd can’t return.
NOTE: This part of the story was clarified later:
In other news, OaklandClubhouse has confirmed that 2016 fourth-round pick Skylar Szynski had Tommy John surgery earlier this year. The 20-year-old right-hander had an outstanding spring training but injured his forearm late in camp. He tried rehabbing the injury but eventually surgery was necessary. He is on a 12-to-18 month timetable, so he may not be back on the mound in game until late next season.
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