CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - It's been a lifelong dream for A.J. Puk to play in the major leagues.
This is a 2018 photo of A.J. Puk of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. This image reflects the 2018 active roster as of Feb. 22, when this image was taken. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
The former Cedar Rapids Washington prep was drafted in the first round back in 2016 by the Oakland A's. He quickly rose through the minor league system.
Then on Aug. 21 of this season, Puk made his debut coming out of the bullpen against the New York Yankees.
"It was everything that you dream of," said Puk. "I tried to keep my heart rate down as best I could."
It was a moment he'd waited for a long time, especially after missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. Puk was certainly frustrated, but he didn't focus on the past and worked hard in rehab to be ready for the following season.
He certainly did and it showed on the mound. He pitched in 10 games collecting 13 strikeouts and recording a 3.18 ERA. He also had two wins. Puk says he felt more comfortable after each appearance.
"I actually started throwing my changeup again for the first time," Puk said. "I had early in my rehab, but then I took it away. I thought that was pretty cool just having the confidence in being able to throw that pitch because I know it's one of my better ones."