Minor League Notebook: A.J. Puk makes his professional debut

Cedar Rapids native pitching for Vermont in Shortseason-A

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A.J. Puk’s professional baseball debut was short but oh, so sweet.

The Cedar Rapids Washington graduate threw two hitless innings Tuesday night for the Vermont Lake Monsters of the Shortseason-A New York-Penn League. He got a no decision in his team’s 3-1 loss to Auburn.

Puk was the top pick of the Oakland Athletics in last month’s MLB Draft, the sixth overall, out of the University of Florida.

“I felt really good out there,” Puk told www.milb.com. “It’s nice to get back out playing because it’s been about a month since I made a start. I was ecstatic.”

Puk pitched to only one batter for Florida at the College World Series, so he’d been off the mound for awhile. Blake Perkins hit the first pitch of the lefty’s career to second base, and it was misplayed for an error.

But the next Auburn batter bounced into a double play, and Puk got four more groundouts to end his successful first appearance. He threw only 17 pitches, but 12 were for strikes.

That’s encouraging since control and command were issues for him his junior season at Florida.

“My command was really good,” Puk told www.milb.com. “I threw my fastball wherever I wanted to, moved it in and out. They were just reaching out for it and beating it into the ground. I had some good secondary offerings as well and got a lot of quick at-bats.”

CHRISTENSEN HANGS UP SPIKES

Chad Christensen, another Washington graduate, has decided his professional baseball career is over.

The outfielder was a 25th-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2013 out of the University of Nebraska and hit .254 in 330 minor-league games in the organization, including .272 in 127 games for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2014.

He was released by the Twins in early June, hooked on with the independent St. Paul Saints for 20 games but was released by that club last week.

Christensen’s youngest brother, Drew, was starting shortstop for Washington as a sophomore this season. Middle brother, Austin, is a sophomore coach for the Warriors.

QUAD CITIES, LAKE COUNTY PLAY SCHEDULED DH

Quad Cities and Lake County played a Midwest League double-header Saturday night at Lake County’s Classic Park that was scheduled before the season.

The Republican National Convention is in Cleveland, and the ballpark — located in surburban Cleveland — is being made available for whatever function associated with the event might come up.

QC and LC play a single game Sunday afternoon, then have Monday off. It’ll be a two-day break for the teams, considering Tuesday is a league-wide off day.

How They're Doing

Colin Rea (Cascade): Is 5-3 with a 4.95 ERA in 17 games, 16 starts for San Diego Padres. Allowed eight hits and four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last start against Arizona.
Scott Schebler (Cedar Rapids Prairie): Outfielder has a seven-game hitting streak for Triple-A Indianapolis (Reds). Is hitting .299 in 61 games with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs.
Matt Dermody (University of Iowa): Relief pitcher has been promoted to Triple-A Buffalo (Blue Jays), where he has thrown a scoreless inning in his only outing. Is 3-1 with three saves and a 1.38 earned run average in 33 appearances this season at Buffalo, Double-A New Hampshire and High-A Dunedin.
Jon Keller (Cedar Rapids Xavier): Reliever is 0-2 with a save and 6.35 earned run average in 22 appearances for Double-A Bowie (Orioles).
Mitch Keller (Cedar Rapids Xavier): Starting pitcher threw seven two-hit shutout innings in his previous start for Class A West Virginia (Pirates). Is 6-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 16 starts this season, allowing just 63 hits and 11 walks in 88 2/3 innings, striking out 94.
Derrick Loveless (Solon): Outfielder is hitting .233 in 22 games for Double-A New Hampshire (Blue Jays). Has four homers and eight RBIs.
Jake Yacinich (University of Iowa): Shortstop is hitting .230 in 45 games for low-A Burlington (Angels), with four homers and 23 RBIs.
Joel Booker (University of Iowa): Outfielder is hitting .315 in 19 games for Arizona Rookie League White Sox, with a home run and 10 RBIs.
Kris Goodman (University of Iowa): Outfielder is hitting .250 in 17 games for Rookie-level Batavia (Marlins).
Nick Roscetti (University of Iowa): Shortstop is on the disabled list for high-A Brevard County (Brewers). Hit .277 in 13 games for Arizona Rookie League Brewers.
Eric Toole (University of Iowa): Outfielder is hitting .271 in 12 games for Shortseason-A Boise (Rockies), with four RBIs.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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