Matt Purke, the Nationals' third-round pick in this year's draft, will meet with the Washington media for the first time at 3:45 p.m. today, continuing one of the more interesting stories in the Nationals' 2011 draft class.
A left-hander from TCU, Purke was projected by many to be a top-10 pick, until concerns over his signability and a shoulder injury (which turned out to be bursitis) caused him to slip to the third round of the draft.
Purke could have gone back to college for his senior year at TCU, but the Nationals put an offer on the table that was too good for the left-hander to pass up. They agreed to give him a four-year major league deal, believed to be worth close to what UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer, the third pick in this year's draft, got from the Diamondbacks.
The Nationals watched Purke throw after drafting him, and had him examined by both team doctor Wiemi Douoguih and surgeon Lewis Yocum. They did an MRI arthrogram on his shoulder to make sure there was no structural damage, and Purke's openness left an impression on general manager Mike Rizzo.
"You know, not many draft choices allow you to do an MRI arthrogram and shoot dye into their bodies," Rizzo said after the Nationals had signed Purke on Monday night. "(It was important) for us to get a clear evaluation of his status. Then, after that, we evaluated him pitching on two occasions."
With a 97-mph fastball and an impressive breaking ball, Purke's ceiling might be higher than that of Alex Meyer, whom the Nationals took with the 23rd overall pick. He's one of the bigger gambles in the 2011 draft class, but the decision to sign him was also one of the Nationals' boldest moves.
We'll have more on Purke from the press conference later today.