Baseball: Washington's Puk Headed To College Over Pros

By Jeff Johnson (Story) and Scott Saville (Video), Reporters

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By Grant Burkhardt

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.

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