Nationals draft pick Matt Purke has arrived in Arizona and is now available to pitch for the Scottsdale Scorpions after a successful instructional league camp in Viera, Fla.
The 96th overall selection, a left-hander out of TCU, will work out of the bullpen in Arizona, according to Nationals director of player development Doug Harris.
Harris said Purke will usually get one or two innings of work, with Single-A Potomac Nationals pitching coach Paul Menhart, the Scorpions’ pitching coach, working with him in Scottsdale.
There also is a chance Purke will piggyback the outings of Boston Red Sox starter Brock Huntzinger a couple of games this fall. This means Purke will be the first reliever out of the ‘pen to replace Huntzinger when he finishes his start.
“We are really excited about Matt,” Harris said. “The guys that just signed in August are getting up to speed and Viera was perfect for him. He has a lot of ability and I am impressed with his makeup.”
Harris said Purke is a smart, self-motivated pitcher who is confident in his stuff.
“Matt understands who he is as a pitcher,” Harris said. “He has a great drive to be the best. Matt is mature and focused. This is big because he already has the ability.”
Harris said Purke is hitting 92 to 93 mph on his fastball.
“He has good life on his fastball. His arm is quick and he is aggressive in his delivery,” Harris said.
There are some small adjustments the Nationals would like to make in Purke’s delivery, but as with young hitters, they like to let them get out and play a little, work a few innings in this first season before they tweak anything.
“There are some things delivery-wise we would like to work on long-term,” Harris said. “He has been receptive to a lot of advice and teaching. The scouts did a good job on this kid because of his incredible makeup.”
Playing in the AFL will also be an excellent experience for Purke because of Menhart’s tutelage and having another top young southpaw starter in the dugout in Sammy Solis to bounce ideas and in-game strategies off of.