Matt Purke’s major league debut Friday night was the culmination of a seven-year journey to get here, complete with plenty of peaks and valleys.
The 25-year-old left-hander was a first-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2009 out of a high school in the suburbs of Houston, but didn’t sign. After three years at TCU, he was picked by the Washington Nationals in the third round of the 2011 draft and was considered a top prospect soon thereafter — Baseball Prospectus ranked him as its No. 91 prospect prior to the 2012 season.
But Purke’s star quickly fell in a rash of injuries. He had shoulder surgery shortly after being drafted in 2011 and underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2014. In between were some rough seasons — like before his surgery two years ago, when he had an 8.04 ERA in eight starts — but he stuck with it and finally got his chance with the White Sox.
“It was awesome,” Purke said. “It was definitely my dream to play in the big leagues, and to finally get out there and be able to do that was great.”
Purke would’ve rather debuted in a game the White Sox won — they lost 4-1 to the Kansas City Royals on Friday — but his 1 1/3 scoreless innings helped keep the White Sox in theoretical striking distance.
Purke was called up to the major leagues May 13 but had to wait a week to debut. He initially had a large party of family and friends in New York hoping to see his debut, but due to other obligations only Purke’s mother, father and wife were in attendance Friday night for his first big league appearance.
But now that his debut is out of the way, Purke is focused on doing what he can to pitch in for a White Sox team trying to hold on to first place in the American League central.
“Just ready to go,” Purke said. “Just really want to get out there and help the guys any way I can and help this team win.”