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Scouting Rangers Draft Pick Matt Purke

June 5, 2009 BY ALEX EISENBERG 7 Comments

Continuing with our reports on the top prep left handed pitching prospects in this year’s draft class. We started with Tyler Matzek. Now we move on to Matt Purke

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Matt Purke | LHP | Klein High School in Texas

Label – The Upside Pick

Signability – Committed to Texas Christian University and will require a big bonus to sign…rumors have his asking price being in the $3 million to $5 million range.

Teams Linked to Purke – The Yankees would love to see Purke fall into their laps at No. 29. There really haven’t been a lot of teams linked specifically to Purke.

*Edit – Purke was drafted by the Texas Rangers with the 14th pick in the 2009 Major League draft

Body Type- Tall and lanky at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds…long arms…described as “very projectable”, but his build leads me to believe he’ll have trouble adding weight….it’s worth noting


Fastball – Purke’s fastball sits between 90 – 93 mph rather easily without much effort…he’s touched 94 and I’m of the belief he has more velocity in the tank even if he doesn’t add another pound of muscle to his frame…the pitch has good life and will run away from right handed hitters and into lefties…typically works down in the zone with the pitch.

Slurve – Purke’s breaking ball is a cross between a slider and curveball and is typically clocked in the upper 70′s or low 80′s. The pitch sweeps across the plate, but Purke also shows an ability to back-door it to righties…commands the pitch pretty well…doesn’t play-up as well as it could.

On the left is Purke’s fastball, which in this particular instance sailed on him a bit, while getting the swing-and-miss anyway. On the right is Purke’s slurve, which he back-doors to the batter:

*Credit to Minor League Baseball

Purke’s fastball and breaking ball both come from the same arm slot and travel on the same plane. The only difference is that Purke is a little more controlled when he’s throwing his breaking ball and he doesn’t particularly sell the pitch well.

Change-Up – Purke is said to have a good feel for the pitch, but he hasn’t used it much at the high school level. Keith Law notes his change-up is of the “Vulcan-style” and mentions how Purke’s arm slot makes it difficult to throw the pitch effectively.


*Credit to the MLB Scouting Bureau

Some positives and negatives with Purke mechanically….his arm action is very loose and whip-like — very tension free. He breaks his hands late, which speeds up his arm as it tries to catch up with the rest of his body. A late hand break can benefit a pitcher’s velocity and make it tougher to pick up the ball out of his hand.

The tradeoff to that deception and extra arm speed is that it might add a little more stress to the shoulder. In addition, Purke doesn’t incorporate his lower body all that much into his delivery, forcing his arm to do much of the work. Pitchers who have a busier lower body also tend to have their breaking stuff play-up because hitters react to that lower body movement and gear up for something hard.

With that said, Purke’s delivery is simple and repeatable. He also has sound front-side mechanics that will help limit the pounding his shoulder takes.

Other Notes

Purke is an excellent athlete and shows an ability to consistently coordinate all his moving parts. He controls all his pitches fairly well, though he has work to do on his command. Purke is also said to have a good feel for pitching.

Best Case Outcome – Another potential front of the rotation starter…upside is probably a tick higher than Matzek — that is unless the report about Matzek throwing 94 – 96 in his last outing is accurate.

More Likely Outcome – Middle of the rotation starter…has more downside than Matzek. Some see Purke as a potential reliever because of his slender build and armsy mechanics, but his three-pitch mix, solid control, and repeatable delivery suggest a different alternative. The team that drafts Purke will be banking on Purke to stay a starter and reach his front of the rotation type upside.

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    • Farm Report « Play The Red Cards said:

      [...] Baseball-Intellect?Matt Purke??????????????????????? [...]

    • Analyzing Matt Purke’s Mechanics | The Yankee Universe said:

      [...] actual video analysis of Purke’s mechanics and an in-depth scouting report, check out this article from Alex Eisenberg Baseball Intellect.  I’ll let you read the article since it is very [...]

    • Ace II said:

      Great piece. Quick questions though:

      1.Why do you think he will have trouble adding weight to a 6’3″ frame?

      2. What is a vulcan-style changeup?

    • Alex Eisenberg (author) said:


      1. I think he’ll have trouble adding weight because his body doesn’t look like it can gain muscle easily. His metabolism is said to be extremely fast so he’ll have to maintain a very high calorie diet and hit the gym hard to put on a good amount of muscle.

      2. The vulcan-style change-up refers to it’s grip. The pitch is a normal change-up and will move down and in to right handed hitters.

    • Matt Purke Mania | Future Redbirds said:

      [...] Alex Eisenberg also gave a good review of Purke, but noted some of my concerns with his mechanics. Some positives and negatives with Purke mechanically….his arm action is very loose and whip-like — very tension free. He breaks his hands late, which speeds up his arm as it tries to catch up with the rest of his body. A late hand break can benefit a pitcher’s velocity and make it tougher to pick up the ball out of his hand. [...]

    • Steve said:

      your statement – “skinnier pitchers tend to break down at higher rates than short, heavy-set, or “normal-sized” pitchers” – is completely baseless.

    • Alex Eisenberg (author) said:

      Steve, it’s not baseless at all though I think the language I used is a bit misleading. Here is the study I found the information in:


      Skinny pitchers tend to have lower “survival rates” than “fat, short, or tall” pitchers, meaning skinny pitchers were less likely to be pitching at the age of 32. Skinny pitchers were also 50% more likely to have ended up in relief by that age as well. Now, I’ll say the author didn’t know exactly why skinny pitchers were less likely to be pitching at 32 or why skinny pitchers had to be moved into relief though he offered theories. So in that sense, what I said was misleading.