Nationals pitching prospect and 2011 third round pick Matt Purke made his first minor league start as a member of the organization on Thursday. It was a much awaited debut for the young lefty, but the results were a little ugly.
Purke took the loss for Single-A Hagerstown after allowing five earned runs to the Greensboro Grasshoppers. He gave up seven hits, five walks, a home run and struck out just one batter in the afternoon game.
Purke had been at Nationals' extended spring training in Florida to start the year because of past shoulder issues. The 21-year-old Texas Christian product was selected 96th overall by Washington last season and signed a four-year, 4 million deal in August.
The Nationals believe Purke to be a fast-rising prospect and hope for him to reach the big leagues as early as next season. He was signed above slot to convince him to leave college as before he arrived at TCU he was picked 14th overall by the Texas Rangers in 2009. Purke declined the offer and went on to have a stellar freshman year with the Horned Frogs.
In 2010 Purke went 16-0 with a 3.02 ERA and was named the Baseball America Freshman of the Year. In 2011 he battled shoulder issues but still held a 5-1 record with a 1.71 ERA in 11 appearances.
Washington believes Purke is past the shoulder problems and his development will be closely watched throughout the course of this season.