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Baseball: Washington's Puk Headed To College Over Pros

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa Even before last week's Major League Baseball Draft, Cedar Rapids Washington senior pitcher/first baseman A.J. Puk had made up his mind.

The lanky Warrior had decided he is going to go to college instead of signing a professional contract.

A 35th-round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers, Puk decided to honor his scholarship and play baseball for the University of Florida.

"I told all the scouts that I made my decision to not sign a professional contract and go to college instead," Puk said last night before last night's 10-0 loss at Cedar Rapids Kennedy. "I made that decision so that way I can be a two-way player. But a team drafted me anyway."

Puk was hitting .300 with two home runs and six RBIs going into last night's Mississippi Valley Conference contest. On the mound, he is 2-0 with a 2.80 ERA and 25 strikeouts.

He is set to leave for Florida on June 22 to take summer classes and start practicing with all the other incoming freshmen.

"I'm leaving early ... to get ahead in school and to work out in the summer program where usually a lot of the freshmen class go to the summer work out," he said.

Puk and the Warriors are 7-5 after last night's loss.

"I'm going to play the rest of this week and take the whole week off next week to pack and rest up before I head out," Puk said. "The season is going good for us and we are doing well as a team.

"Everyone has been contributing to the team. They'll do just fine even after I leave."

Puk said he chose college over playing professional baseball because it will give him a better chance to gain experience and improve his game.

He figures it also gives him a chance at getting picked earlier in the next draft he enters.