Washington Nationals' 2011 3rd Rounder Matt Purke Makes Minor League Debut With Class-A Hagerstown Suns.

March 07, 2012; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Matt Purke (50) pitches during the spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

21-year-old Washington Nationals' 2011 3rd Round pick Matt Purke made his minor league debut this morning with the Nats' Class-A affiliate, the Hagerstown Suns. MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr reported in recent weeks that the former TCU Horned Frogs' lefty who had a (21-1) record with 54 walks and 203 K's over two seasons in college after he was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 1st Round of the '09 Draft and failed to sign, had begun to pitch in extended Spring Training games in the last few weeks as he worked his way back from shoulder issues which plagued him in his sophomore year. Injury and signability concerns resulted in the pitcher falling to the 3rd Round where the Nationals selected him last June.

The Nationals signed Purke to a well-above slot 4-year/$4.15M dollar major league deal which included a $2.75M dollar signing bonus with Nats' GM Mike Rizzo describing him in an ESPN980 interview at the time as a, "... power pitcher that has good command of his four pitches," that they thought would be, "... a quick-to-the-big-leagues college-type of pitcher." Purke started his minor league career this morning with 5.0 innings of work in which he allowed seven hits, a disputed home run, five walks and five runs, all earned. After a 1-2-3 1st, the left-hander gave up four singles, two walks and two runs in the third. A 1-2-3 4th was followed by a 5th inning in which Purke gave up a two-run home run (the Suns thought was foul) after a leadoff walk and a two-out RBI double. MASN's Mr. Kerr (@BKerr32) reported on Twitter that Purke threw 83 pitches and topped out at 91mph (unofficially).

In Hagerstown, Purke joins fellow 2011 picks 1st Rounders RHP Alex Meyers, OF Brian Goodwin, 4th Round pick Kylin Turnbull, 5th Round pick 3B Matt Skole and other players from last year's draft. 2011 no.1 overall pick Anthony Rendon started the year at High-A Potomac, but suffered a partial fracture in his left ankle rounding third and trying to score after hitting his first double of the year. In a recent interview with The Houston Chronicle, the 21-year-old infielder said he thought he was likely done for the season after the injury.

In an interview on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Mike Rizzo Show with Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this morning, the Nats' GM reiterated as he'd said before that he didn't believe that was the case. "He's in Florida working out with our club, and rehabbing his ankle... doing weight-bearing stuff right now and [he's] going to beginning baseball activities and I think he's due to be back around August 1st.

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