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2011 MLB Draft – Rounds 3-5 wrap: Nationals gamble on Matt Purke

Jun 7, 2011, 4:15 PM EDT

Matt Purke AP

Matt Purke, who was drafted 14th overall by the Rangers coming out of high school in 2009, went to the Nationals with the No. 96 pick as a draft-eligible sophomore today.  It was a big tumble for the left-hander, who was a candidate to go first overall before a rough season.

Purke agreed to a $6 million deal with the Rangers in 2009, only to have it vetoed by the commisioner’s office because of the team’s dire financial situation before it was sold.  At TCU, he went 16-0 with a 3.02 ERA as a freshman, striking out 142 batters in 116 1/3 innings.  However, he lost his best fastball this year before missing time with arm problems.

Purke looks like a true wild card now.  If his arm is sound, he’d probably be better off returning to TCU for his junior season, because he could definitely reemerge as a top-five pick next year.  If, on the other hand, he is worried about his arm, then he might want to take what money he can get while it’s still out there.  The suspicion, though, is that he’s going back to school.

Other thoughts:

– The Pirates made power bat Alex Dickerson the first pick of round three and announced him as a first baseman.  He was actually an outfielder at Indiana, but the move appeared inevitable.  Of course, Pedro Alvarez seems destined for first himself, but whether there will be a role for Dickerson can be worried about at a later date.

– Texas A&M right-hander John Stilson went to the Blue Jays at No. 108.  He was a likely first-rounder before his season ended due to a torn labrum.

– The Red Sox went for their second catcher of the draft when they picked Jordan Weems at No. 111.  He’s the younger brother of former Yankees and current Reds farmhand Chase Weems. In round four, they went with Cal State Fullerton’s Noe Ramirez, who has a below average fastball but terrific college results.

– The Giants selected USC’s Ricky Oropesa at No. 116 and announced him as a first baseman.  He was more highly regarded after hitting 20 homers as a sophomore.  This year, he slipped all of the way to seven.  His slugging percentage went from .578 as a freshman to .711 as a sophomore to .481 this year.

– As mentioned in that wrap, the Red Sox went into Yankees territory to grab their round two selection, Williams Jerez.  In round three, the Yankees came back and picked a New Hampshire right-hander named Jordan Cote with the 118th pick.  As a cold-weather player, he’s quite raw, but ESPN’s Keith Law liked him enough to rank him 85th in his top 100.

– Round 4 belonged to the Kyles. Kyle Simon (No. 125 to BAL), Kyle Smith (No. 126 to KC), Kylin Turnbull (No. 127 to WAS), Kyle McMillen (No. 141 to CWS) and Kyle McMyne (No. 145 to CIN) all went in a span of 21 picks.

– The Twins picked late-bloomer Matt Summers at No. 148.  He had an 8.51 ERA in four starts and 17 relief appearances for UC Irvine last year before becoming the Big West Pitcher of the Year this season.  If his velocity spike is for real, he could be a great find.

– Georgia Tech’s Matt Skole went to the Nationals at No. 157.  He hit 47 homers over the last three seasons, but he was arrested in February for DUI and suspended twice by Tech for violating team rules.  Like Anthony Rendon, he was announced by the team as a third baseman. He’ll probably stay there for now.

  1. cur68 - Jun 7, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    So many pictures or Matt Purke (including presumably baby pictures) and how did you know this was the one to go with? There is a special sort of genius for knowing what picture best suits a given story. Mat Purke falling in the daft IS this picture.

  2. rollinghighwayblues - Jun 7, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Faced Purke three years ago in the second round of the state playoffs. Every swinging dick with a radar gun that was within 120 miles was packed in behind home plate. Purke was sitting at a consistent 93-94mph and hit 96 a few times and had a change-up that was straight filth. Faced him two days later where he proceeded to hit me in the hand with a low 90s fastball…thanks btw. It’s always fun to face these guys back when and see them in the national spotlight today.

  3. natstowngreg - Jun 7, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    The draft being a crapshoot anyway, I don’t mind the Nats taking a few gambles.

    But this guy Skole sounds like a case of perhaps overlooking character flaws in the search for talent. A DUI is much more serious than Bryce Harper’s much-discussed behavior. And the memory of the Nats’ efforts to rehabilitate Elijah Dukes is fresh enough to make me a little wary.

  4. genericcommenter - Jun 7, 2011 at 9:09 PM

    Just curious- what makes one draft-eligible as a sophomore?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Jun 7, 2011 at 9:15 PM

      It’s an age thing. As long as you’re 21 within 45 days of the draft, you’re eligible to be picked. Most people get there as juniors, but freshmen and sophomores are also eligible if they’re old enough.

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