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 left-handed pitcher Matt Purke struggled with shoulder issues (shoulder bursitis) in his sophomore year at Texas Christian University in 2011 which resulted in the 2009 1st Round pick, who never signed with the Texas Rangers who'd selected him 14th overall that year, falling to the Washington Nationals in the 3rd Round where they made him the 93rd pick of the 2011 Draft. After Purke allowed the team to perform an MRI arthrogram on the injured shoulder, the Nationals were comfortable enough with what they saw that they were willing to go way above slot to give the lefty a 4-year/$4.15M dollar major league deal that included a $2.75M dollar signing bonus.
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo explained at the time that after getting Purke signed, the next step was to send the pitcher to Florida where the organization's pitching coordinator Spin Williams would work with him, "... assess where he's at as far as his readiness to pitch," and, "... put a plan together to get him on the mound." After Purke had worked out in Florida he was sent to the Arizona Fall League for his first competitive action as a pro. The 6'4'', 180lb pitcher got knocked around early, but he ended his AFL stint with four scoreless innings out of the pen in which he gave up just a walk and two hits. Overall he walked three, K'd five and gave up 12 hits and 11 runs (all earned) in 7.1 IP.
Purke pitched 3.0 innings in Spring Training, giving up a run on five hits, but started his first professional season in extended Spring Training. An undisclosed setback delayed the start of Purke's minor league career until May 30th when he threw 5.0 innings for the Class-A Hagerstown Suns, giving up seven hits, five walks and five runs. In two starts and 10.1 IP since, Purke's given up eight hits, six runs, five earned and seven walks while striking out 13. This afternoon, however, MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr reported that a source told him the Nats' Class-A affiliate had placed the left-hander on the 7-Day DL with what his source told him was shoulder stiffness. There's no official announcement from the Suns or Nationals as of this evening. More info when it's available...