In assessing the success the Washington Nationals have had in the draft over the last few seasons in an article this morning entitled, "King of the Draft: The Washington Nationals", Fangraphs.com's Marc Hulet wrote that he thought the Nats, "took a huge gamble," with the contract they gave to Matt Purke, the 21-year-old left-hander out of Texas Christian University who signed a 4-year major league deal that shocked many in the baseball world. Several draft experts had predicted the one-time and projected 1st Round pick, who fell to Washington 96th overall in the 3rd Round due to health and signability concerns, would return to college and attempt pitch his way back to the top of the 2012 Draft.
Instead he signed a deal with Washington that Baseball America's Jim Callis, in an article entitled, "No Matter The Slots, Teams Spent Freely In 2011", wrote this morning, includes, "... a third-round record $2.75 million bonus as part of a four-year big league contract with $4.15 million in guarantees (net present value: $3,813,308), two club options and an arbitration opt-out."
The Fangraphs.com writer, Mr. Hulet, however, noted that, "It’s been reported that Washington was given full disclosure on the southpaw’s medical reports so there must have been a level of confidence from the team’s doctors before Rizzo signed off on the contract." In a interview on ESPN980's The Sports Fix with Thom Loverro on Wednesday, the D.C. GM explained the process of putting Purke through a physical and enhanced MRI that satisfied any concerns they might have had about his injured left shoulder.
"He came in before the All-Star Break," the Nationals' General Manager explained, "He came in to Nationals Park, saw the facility, we put him through all the paces of his physical and [he] was very open and honest with us in allowing us to do an MRI arthrogram, which as you know, Thom, you have to put dye into the body and that gives you the most enhanced MRI that you get. He was very open with us and we haven't had many amateur players that allowed us to do that so he had nothing to hide. He checked out great with our doctors and two other doctors that we had him checked by and we're satisfied with the makeup, we're satisfied with the medical and we're certainly satified with the stuff."
The Nats' GM described Purke to ESPN 980's Thom Loverro as a, "... polished accomplished pitcher," who has, "... really performed outstandingly well from his high school days through his freshman and sophomore year at TCU. He was a high draft and high dollar guy out of high school, that didn't work out," the Nationals' General Manager explained in summing up well-documented negotations with the Texas Rangers which ended with Purke unsigned, so, Mr. Rizzo continued, "He went to TCU and was (16-0) his freshman year, and led that team to the post season."
To elaborate, Purke was (16-0) with 142 K's (10.99 K/9) and 34 BB (2.63 BB/9) in 20 games and 116.1 IP, leading the Horned Frogs to the College World Series. "And this year," Rizzo said, "as a sophomore, although he had some shoulder bursitis in his arm [and] still was (5-1) with, I think, a 1.70 ERA." In 11 starts, Purke was (5-1) with a 1.71 ERA, .187 BAA, 61 K's (10.42 K/9) and 20 walks (3.42 BB/9) in 52.2 IP.
"He's a power pitcher that has good command of his four pitches," Rizzo said, "He's a polished guy with command, poise and stuff and we think he's a quick-to-the-big-leagues college-type of pitcher and we're really pleased at the person and we were satisfied with his health."
The Washington Nationals introduce Purke today in a 3:45 pm EDT press conference. On his new Twitter account, (@MattPurke47) the left-hander wrote this morning, "It feels good to be in D.C. Good flight and now time to enjoy everything in D.C. Can't wait to get to the game tonight and see the #Nationals." The 3rd rounder with 1st Round talent and a major league deal will have his first curly-W cap and jersey soon. Will Ryan Zimmerman be there to welcome another Nats' draft pick to Washington?