The Island to the Show: Matt Purke

Photo courtesy Will Bentzel / MiLB

Photo courtesy Will Bentzel / MiLB

MLB Debut: May 20

Harrisburg stats (2014-15)
2-9, 7.28 ERA, 1.796 WHIP, .350 BAA
55.2 IP, 25 BB, 41 K

The question with Matt Purke was always about his health. After an unbelievable freshman season at TCU where he went 16-0, Purke only started 11 games the next season. The Washington Nationals weren’t deterred by that though and drafted the southpaw in the third round of the 2011 draft.

Purke made just three starts in 2012 with Hagerstown before needing shoulder debridement surgery that caused him to miss the remainder of the season. After a disastrous stint in Harrisburg in 2014, Purke once again went under the knife but this time for Tommy John surgery. The Nationals released the lefty that off-season (removing him from their 40-man roster in the process) but re-signed him to a minor league deal for 2015. A year later, the Nationals cut bait on him this time for good.

“I really never got a chance to actually showcase myself fully because if it wasn’t one [injury] it was another thing, so I was really kind of handcuffed,” Purke told The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes. “The biggest thing I got from that was I was able to mentally stay focused and understand that it was going to end. Eventually I was going to get out of the tunnel. I just had to keep progressing and doing what I knew was the right thing to do.”

The Chicago White Sox took a chance on the Texas native’s health in 2016 and the gamble paid off. Purke was placed in the Triple-A Charlotte bullpen out of spring training and flourished in 10 appearances pitching to a 2.30 ERA before getting the call to the Majors. After his debut on May 20 where he tossed 1.1 scoreless innings against the Kansas City Royals, Purke appeared in 11 more games for the White Sox before getting sent back to Charlotte for the remainder of the season.

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