Matt Purke experienced a fairly eventful offseason for a pitcher rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The 24-year-old, Nationals' 2011 3rd Round pick was released in mid-November, but he re-signed with Washington on a minor league deal three days later.
Purke, a 2009 1st Round pick by the Texas Rangers (14th overall), who fell to the Nats in the third round (96th overall) two years later after he suffered a shoulder injury in his second season at TCU, signed a a 4-year/$4.15M major league deal back when the Nationals were "attacking the draft" in GM Mike Rizzo's words, while they still could.
"The plan three years ago was to attack the draft before the new CBA," Rizzo told reporters in the lead-up to the 2012 Draft. "That was our focus, that was our vision, that was our strategy going into it three years ago and we did it, we attacked it for the last three years and I don't think you'll see a draft class like last year's because of the new CBA rules."
"He was a high draft and high dollar guy out of high school, that didn't work out," Rizzo told ESPN980's Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan after selecting Purke.
Purke was (16-0) with 142 K's (10.99 K/9) and 34 walks (2.63 BB/9) in 20 games and 116 ⅓ IP as a freshman in 2010.
"And this year," Rizzo said, "as a sophomore, although he had some shoulder bursitis in his arm, [he] still was (5-1) with, I think, a 1.70 ERA."
Purke posted a 1.71 ERA, 20 walks (3.42 BB/9) and 61 K's (10.42 K/9) and 52 ⅔ IP over which he held opposing hitters to a .187 BAA, but the bursitis limited him just eleven starts.
Purke did eventually need shoulder surgery in the winter of 2012, but the lefty returned to the mound in 2013. This past season, however, he suffered a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery.
Rizzo provided an update when the Nationals announced they re-signed Purke to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training this winter.
"'We are excited to keep Matt in the organization and to keep his rehab on track,'" Rizzo said, as quoted by Amanda Comak at Curly W Live in November. "'We look forward to seeing him rebound from his surgery during the upcoming season.'"
Through 29 starts with the organization (at Low-A Hagerstown, High-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg), Purke is (7-12), with a 5.00 ERA, 55 walks (3.62 BB/9) and 118 Ks (7.77 K/9) in 136 ⅔ IP.
Purke started his throwing program in December, so he's still working his way back.
Today he was reassigned to minor league camp:
The #Nats have reassigned LHP Matt Purke to Minor League camp.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 10, 2015