MLB Draft 2011 Prospect Profile: Matt Purke, LHP, T.C.U

Summary

I don't think that you put this any other way, but Matt Purke is probably the biggest wild card going into the draft. When healthy, Purke is a finesse lefty that that can touch 97, but sits in the 92-94 mph range with an above average slider and has some feel for his changeup.  Purke was shut down after an April 16 start and was diagnosed with shoulder bursitis and didn't pitch again until May 19th. He should be able to get a couple of starts in prior to the draft, but being a draft eligible sophomore he should be able to pitch in a summer league in order to rebuild value. Purke should be a tough sign this year depending on how he pitches this summer and the uncertainty that he might enter the 2012 draft in order to rebuild his stock and make a push for the top pick.  

 

Ceiling

When healthy, Purke is one of the best prospects in the game. He has an advanced feel for pitching and could move really fast through a team's farm system. Purke profiles as a top of the rotation starter with a very high ceiling, but again it all depends on his health. His delivery reminds you a lot of Brian Fuentes delivery, but with a little more life.

 

Floor

It all depends on health with Purke. Some scouts have concerns about his pitching mechanics and his low-slot arm action. According to some reports, this low slot angle could put stress on the shoulder and cause problems down the road. Then there are other scouts that say that his shoulder problems came because he simply didn't build up enough arm strength. Depending on his health  

 

Will the Astros pick him? If so, where?

It's very possible that the Houston Astros target Matt Purke in the draft. I just don't think that it's going to be this year. With questions about his health and his sinking draft status, it could very possible that Matt Purke waits until next year and enters the draft again in order to rebuild his draft stock. It's still very possible that Matt Purke could fall to the Astros in the 2nd round, and that the Astros could gamble on the prospect that was once considered one of the top prospects for the 2011 draft.  

 

Where is he projected to go right now?

ESPN: Not Projected in the 1st Round

Baseball America: Not Projected in the 1st Round

 

Scouting Videos

 

What Scout's say about him...

Keith Law:

Purke is the biggest wild card in the draft, and his draft position will depend mostly on how he looks in any final starts he makes before the draft (he may get two, at the Mountain West tournament and in a regional a day or two prior to draft day) and on whether he's willing to accept less than the $4 million he turned down from Texas in 2009.

When healthy, Purke might touch 97 but sit 92-94 with an above-average slider and some feel for a changeup, but before he was shut down with bursitis he was sitting 88-90 and touching 92, throwing lots of off-speed stuff because the fastball bothered his arm and struggling with location.

His low-slot, slinging arm action does put stress on his shoulder, so it's a tough call for a team drafting him even if they get his full medicals, but there is some No. 2-3 starter upside here if he's healthy and has realistic bonus demands. He's a draft-eligible sophomore, so he has some leverage and could decide to return to TCU.

Baseball America:

Purke opened the year ranked right behind Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole as a potential No. 1 overall pick, but where he'll go in the draft is now wide open. He left an April 16 start against San Diego State after his fastball dropped to 82 mph in the fifth inning, and was diagnosed with shoulder bursitis four days later by orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. Purke didn't pitch again until he threw three shutout innings against New Mexico on May 19. The 14th overall pick in the 2009 draft, he agreed to a $6 million deal with the Rangers, but Major League Baseball (which controlled the club's finances at the time) wouldn't approve the deal because of the team's financial problems. So Purke joined the Horned Frogs and led them to their first-ever College World Series berth in 2010, leading NCAA Division I in wins while going 16-0, 3.02 and winning Baseball America's Freshman of the Year award. He took the summer and fall off and was hampered this season by back and blister issues. Some scouts believe his shoulder problems came because he didn't build up enough arm strength. Others blame his delivery, as the 6-foot-4, 180-pounder slings the ball from a low three-quarters arm slot. His mechanics deteriorated this spring, as he worked from an even lower angle and threw across his body more than usual, causing his stuff to flatten out. When he's healthy, Purke pitches off a lively 91-94 mph fastball that reaches 96 and backs it up with an above-average slider. His changeup has the potential to become a solid third pitch, and he has average command. He exhibited his competitiveness by gutting through nine starts and going 5-1, 1.44. With concerns about his health and signability-he possesses added leverage as a draft-eligible sophomore-it's unclear where Purke might go. He may have to re-establish his value in summer ball, as Anthony Ranaudo did a year ago after a disappointing spring at Louisiana State. He rebounded in the Cape Cod League and got a $2.55 million bonus from the Red Sox as the 39th pick.

Yahoo

Matt Purke started throwing in the high 80s this spring. The TCU left-hander joined Rendon and Cole in the first-pick discussion before the college season after going 16-0 last year, and he just as quickly dropped - and dropped and dropped and dropped - almost certainly out of the first round.

Like Rendon, Purke is suffering from an uncertain shoulder ailment. The difference: shoulder injuries devastate pitchers' careers, and any questions about a pitcher's health raises flags red and white - stay away from the kid, who ought to surrender any idea of a big bonus coming his way.

Already Purke has seen one come and go. The Texas Rangers drafted him 14th overall two years ago and offered him $6 million. He agreed. MLB vetoed the bonus, saying it was too much. The Rangers lowered the deal to $4 million. Purke rejected it, a move that looked smart before this year.

Purke does have options, even if clubs are balking at his 1.51 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings. A draft-eligible sophomore, he can pitch in a summer league to build his value before the mid-August signing date. Or he can just return to TCU and hope the new collective-bargaining agreement doesn't include mandatory slots that would drive down bonuses.

Jonathan Mayo

When healthy, Purke is one of the most complete pitchers in the Draft class. Taken in high school in the first round of the 2009 Draft, Purke didn't sign with the Rangers and went on to TCU instead. After a stellar freshman year, he entered 2011 as one of the top college arms as a Draft-eligible sophomore.

He throws his fastball comfortably in the 90-95 mph range and can even touch 96 mph. He has a plus curve that has the potential to be even better and a slider that has the chance to be plus as well. His changeup is fringe average, giving him four pitches that he will mix and use to work hitters and keep them off balance.

Purke is very confident on the mound and can be best described as a finesse lefty with plus arm strength and power. He was, however, shut down with shoulder bursitis this spring, leaving his status very much up in the air.

Considered to be a tough sign even before the injury, it remains to be seen who will take the chance on his arm and his signability in June.

 

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