Buried at the end of today's game report on the Hagerstown Suns' 12-5 win over the Asheville Tourists in Asheville, North Carolina was one line on the day's starter for the Washington Nationals' Class-A affiliate. "LHP Matt Purke made his first start of the season for Hagerstown and pitched four innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while striking out six." It was just the fourth pro start for the 22-year-old 2011 3rd Round pick out of Texas Christian University who had surgery on his left shoulder last October, "... to relieve bursitis and clean out scar tissue," as the Washington Times' Amanda Comak reported. The good news, the Times' writer noted at the time, was that Purke's, ".. labrum and rotator cuff are in 'excellent" condition.'" Purke rehabbed all Spring and stayed behind in Florida for extended Spring Training until this week.
As MASN's Byron Kerr wrote this weekend, Nationals' Director of Player Development Doug Harris told the reporter that Purke was almost ready to join one of the Nats' affiliates:
"I saw his next to last outing (in Florida) of four innings of no-hit baseball. The last outing was a little more inconsistent with the command of his fastball. The quality of his stuff is good. He should be on track here shortly. He is on course."
Harris predicted then that Purke would take the mound in a competitive environment soon though he offered no firm date. Purke took the mound for the Suns just after 11:00 am this morning. When he was done for the day, the left-hander had thrown 62 pitches, 46 for strikes and given up seven hits, one home run and two runs overall in 4.0 IP in which he struck out six.
While Purke was on the mound, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was on the radio in the nation's capital, talking to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier about some of the rehabbing prospects in the Nationals' organization including Purke. "Matt Purke is in Hagerstown," Rizzo said. "He just got moved from his rehab to Hagerstown, so he'll be competing at that level, get five or six starts under his belt and probably be moved to a higher level."
The GM then went on to talk about two pitchers recovering from Tommy John, 2010 2nd Round pick Sam Solis and 2012 Nats' 1st Round pick Lucas Giolito. "Sam Solis threw two nights ago, I believe," Rizzo said, "four innings, no hits and struck out four in Potomac. Again, he'll get a couple more starts and probably move to Double-A in the near future. Lucas Giolito is well underway in his throwing program. Don't forget, he had Tommy John surgery [at] the end of August, and he's throwing his sidelines and bullpens and probably in a month he will get an assignment to one of our minor league affiliates."