A.J. Puk Is On A Fast Track To Be Baseball's Next Big Star

A.J. Puk Is On A Fast Track To Be Baseball's Next Big Star

The 22-year-old lefty is already making waves in Oakland.
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Nearly two years ago, the A's selected LHP A.J. Puk with the sixth overall pick in the 2016 Draft. And now, 22 year-old Puk is already on the rise in Oakland, as the young lefty dominated the Padres this past weekend, solidifying himself as a key cornerstone for the future of the Athletics organization.

Puk spent last season in High A ball, later moving up to AA after the All-Star Break, and although the fireballer struggles with command from time to time, his four pitch arsenal has been enough for a clean 0.00 ERA through 5.0 IP so far this Spring. His lethal combination of a fastball, changeup, curveball, and now a hard slider is a classic example of a new-wave pitcher’s lineup of pitches. His pitching style is incredibly reminiscent of Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard, and even Astros’ World Series hero Justin Verlander, and if Puk can make the transition from minor to major leagues, his personal pitching style could emulate the two aforementioned starters. So far, if this Spring’s sample size is of any merit, Puk is having no trouble making the transition towards the major leagues.

The aspiring ace has already earned a K/9 of 7.2 through 2 games this Spring, as he's pitched 2.0 innings during his first start, and 3.0 innings during a relief appearance on Saturday. In comparison, only two other Athletics pitchers has thrown more than 5.0 innings thus far, showing exactly how much the A's organization trusts Puk and his bright future. Still, while Puk is currently slated to start the season in Triple-A Nashville, the confidence that the organization has instilled in their young prospect might be a sign that the A’s would be willing to advance him through the system at a faster rate than usual.

His raw talent and incredible promise should be enough to thrust Puk through the A’s system, as the major league club is lacking depth in their rotation, especially with veteran Sonny Gray leaving the organization last summer at the trade deadline to join the New York Yankees. Although Kendall Graveman may currently be the “ace” of a young Athletics team, it’s only a matter of time until Puk takes over as the main event in Oakland. The team could promote Puk to the majors as early as this Summer, according to manager Bob Melvin, as the team could definitely use a “bonafide starter” like him in the rotation. The future of A’s pitching is now, and with Puk already facing off against major league batters, Oakland could be an immediate threat to an AL West division that is already stacked to the brim with talented contenders.

Needless to say, the season is still young, and the A's have a lot of ground to make up if they're going to be contenders as soon as this year. With the foundations in place, execution is the next step for the Athletics. Nonetheless, the future is bright, and Puk is at the center.

Cover Image Credit: Wikicommons

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20 Signs You Were A High School Cheerleader

You got really tired of hearing, "Point your toes."
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Cheerleading is something you'll never forget. It takes hard work, dedication, and comes with its ups and downs. Here are some statements that every cheerleader, past and present, know to be true.

1. You always had bobby pins with you.

2. Fear shot through you if you couldn't find your spankees right away and thought you left them at home.

3. You accumulated about 90 new pairs of tennis shoes...

4. ...and about 90 new bows, bags, socks, and warm ups.

5. When you hear certain songs from old cheer dance mixes it either ruins your day or brings back happy memories.

6. And chances are, you still remember every move to those dances.

7. Sometimes you catch yourself standing with your hands on your hips.

8. You know the phrase, "One more time, ladies" all too well.

9. The hospitality rooms were always one of the biggest perks of going to tournaments (at least for me).

10. You got really tired of hearing, "Point your toes."

SEE ALSO: How The Term 'Cheerlebrity' Destroyed Our Sport

11. If you left the gym at half-time to go get something, you better be back by the time the boys run back out.

12. You knew how awkward it could be on the bus rides home after the boys lost.

13. But you also knew how fun it could be if they won.

14. Figuring out line-up was extremely important – especially if one of your members was gone.

15. New uniforms were so exciting; minus the fact that they cost a fortune.

16. You know there was nothing worse than when you called out an offense cheer but halfway through, you had to switch to the defense version because someone turned over the ball.

17. You still know the school fight song by heart and every move that goes with it.

SEE ALSO: Signs You Suffer From Post-Cheerleading Depression

18. UCA Cheer Camp cheers and chants still haunt you to this day.

19. You know the difference between a clasp and a clap. Yes, they're different.

20. There's always a part of you that will miss cheering and it will always have a place in your heart.

Cover Image Credit: Doug Pool / Facebook

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​​There's A ​Bionic​ Princess​ Pitching At MLB Games, And She's Changing The Way America Views Disabilities

The story of an eight-year old girl inspiring others to overcome physical disabilities.

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It is said that two is better than one. That more is less. That it takes two to tango. How about those who don't agree with this logic? That one is better than two. That less is more. That it takes one to tango. Well, put yourself in this situation. Picture yourself tying your shoelace, imagine that you are buttoning your jeans. What is one thing these two tasks have in common: two hands. Although simple, these tasks remain difficult for those who only have one.

Since she was just four years old, a girl from Henderson, Nevada has been seeking to change the perception of physical disabilities.

Hailey Dawson has faced her own adversity with physical disabilities since the moment she was born. A rare birth disease called Poland syndrome resulted in the loss of Hailey's right pectoral muscle this caused her to lose three middle fingers. For the first five years of her life Poland Syndrome dictated the types of activities she could participate in. Seeing kids around her participate in sports and physical activities without any restrictions confused her. Hailey just wanted to be like the kids without disabilities: playing sports, getting dirty, and living carefree.

Although Hailey struggled to understand her condition, she has never let her physical disabilities get in her way and has emerged as a public figure of hope for other individuals who face similar struggles.

In 2015, saddened by her daughter's condition, Hailey's mom, Yong, sought to reach out for help. Where would she reach out to? Doctors, physicians, orthopedics? The problem was that a traditional prosthetic hand would cost her family thousands of dollars. Hailey's mom turned to a different avenue hoping to find the right connection. How about a college engineering department? Living in the Las Vegas area, Hailey's mother was able to reach out to the University of Las Vegas Nevada (UNLV) engineering department to help change Hailey's way of life.

A team of UNLV engineers and researchers used a 3D printer to construct a special prosthetic hand for Hailey. After various trials and prototypes, the UNLV team was able to find the right fit for Hailey. With this new 3-D prosthetic hand Hailey had the opportunity to live as a child who could participate in sports and physical activities without any restrictions. The astounding achievement of creating a hand allowed for Hailey to have, for the first time in her life, ten fingers. Hailey's robotic hand enables her to use five plastic fingers held together and controlled mechanically through a system of fishing lines. The fingers open and close as she flicks her wrist up and down, enabling her to hold objects and lob balls. To commemorate Hailey's new physical abilities, the UNLV baseball team invited her to throw out the first pitch at one of their home games. Grasping her hands around the ball, filled with joy and excitement, Hailey stepped out onto the field. Aided by her father, Hailey then tossed the ball to a UNLV baseball player. This significant accomplishment in Hailey's life was not only meaningful for her own life, but for other individuals like her who struggle with the same condition.

To continue her message, she made a courageous goal to throw the ceremonial first pitch at every single MLB stadium.

Her first opportunity came on Aug. 17, 2015: Hailey threw the first pitch for the Baltimore Orioles to her favorite player, Manny Machado. After her performance at Baltimore, her message continued to be heard and teams across the MLB began to reach out to her via Twitter.

As of today, she has completed her goal of pitching for all 30 MLB teams. However, Hailey's journey is one that will live on forever. Now at the age of eight, Hailey's story has sparked hope for many who face similar struggles. Through her ceremonial pitches she has set out to prove that children with physical disabilities and handicaps are not limited in what they can do, they too have the ability to live an extraordinary life. Her message: that a robotic hand is not out of reach. Hailey has the power to show people that, just because she has a limb difference, it doesn't mean she's limited in what she can do.

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