Q&A with Rangers 1st Round Pick Matt Purke

The Texas Rangers drafted left-hander Matt Purke with the 14th overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft on Tuesday. Lone Star Dugout spoke with product of Houston-area Klein High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Jason Cole: Tell me what was going through your mind and what it felt like to be drafted by the Rangers.

Matt Purke: It was a great feeling. A lot of excitement, a lot of nervousness, and everything throughout the day. But it all was worth it when I heard my name being called for the Texas Rangers.

Cole: Growing up in the Houston area, have you been an Astros fan?

Purke: Not really, sir. I actually grew up in East Texas and then moved to the Houston area. I've watched both the Astros and the Rangers, and I've been to both stadiums and stuff. But I really like where the Rangers are going right now.

Cole: Where in East Texas did you grow up?

Purke: Lufkin.

Cole: You mentioned that you follow the Rangers a little bit. How much did you know about the system going into the draft? Do you know anyone that is in the system already?

Purke: Yes, sir. David Murphy plays for the Rangers right now, and he went to Klein and graduated from Klein. I actually played for his brother-in-law during the summer. So I know a little bit about him. I've watched them. I know that Nolan Ryan is really changing the pitching philosophy in the system right now, and I'm just excited to be a part of that.

Cole: Were you expecting the Rangers to pick you when the draft began? Did you have any idea how that first round was going to unfold?

Purke: There were some teams that I thought were going to take me. I talked to my advisor and he said they were interested. I did a workout for the Rangers on Sunday—this last Sunday. I was able to talk to Nolan afterwards and he talked to my family. We had a fairly good conversation.

Then yesterday in the afternoon before the draft, Nolan called my dad and talked to him for 30 minutes and just wanted to know what everything was going to be. At that point, I thought there was a really good possibility that the Rangers were going to take me. Right before they got on the clock—and as they got on the clock—I got the call that said they were going to take me.

Cole: When you did that workout in Arlington, were you throwing a bullpen session in front of Nolan and Jon Daniels?

Purke: Yes, sir. There were six pitchers there, and we all threw off the mound in front of Nolan and Jon Daniels and a few others.

Cole: So you were basically trying out for the Rangers in front of the team's general manager and one of the best pitchers of all time. Were there any nerves there?

Purke: Definitely. That was basically my job interview out there, so I knew I had to perform well and show them that I had good stuff. Definitely a little nervous out there.

Cole: Since the Rangers took you, I'm guessing you threw pretty well under that pressure.

Purke: Yes, sir. Nolan told me and my advisor that I threw extremely well and that he really liked what he saw.

Cole: Give me a little bit of a scouting report of you on the mound, if you will. What's your stuff like and what speeds do you usually work at?

Purke: I'm a three-pitch pitcher. I have a fastball, a curveball, and a changeup. I throw a two-seam and a four-seam fastball. Consistently I'll sit anywhere between 90 and 94 [mph] and I'll get up to 95-96. I've hit 97 a handful of times.

Cole: You mentioned the two- and four-seamers. Do you throw one more than the other?

Purke: Predominantly I'll throw a two-seam fastball because it runs away from right-handers and in on left-handers. I predominantly use that pitch, but the four-seam I'll use when I want to come straight and hard in.

Cole: I know a lot of high school pitchers don't use their changeup much. How often did you throw yours in high school, and how did you feel about it right now?

Purke: To be honest, I could count probably on one hand how many times I threw it in high school. It's a pitch that I'm definitely working on to develop. There are days that I have a really good feel for it, and there are days that it's kind of off. But I know it's in there and I'm working extremely hard this summer. Now that I'm able to use it a lot, I'm working a lot with it to really get it down.

Cole: For Rangers fans that have never seen you pitch to kind of get a picture in their mind, is there a Major League pitcher that you would compare your game to?

Purke: When I talk to a lot of people—and they've looked at me and they look at others—I really match-up with Cole Hamels a lot. A tall, slender left-hander that has a power arm and good stuff. I would say that I would most likely match him in a sense. But my idol growing up has been Tom Glavine, so I'm trying to mold myself after him. But it's a little different because he was more of a finesse pitcher and I'm predominantly a power pitcher.

Cole: You got to participate in the Aflac All-American game alongside a lot of the other first-round picks in this year's draft. Talk about your experience there and being able to play with so much talent.

Purke: It was as great experience. It helped out a lot being able to play in those types of games with the type of talent that was out there. Predominantly when you're in your high school—especially in the Houston area—we're all so spread out that there is maybe one or two good kids on each team.

But when you go to those type of events, every kid there is a good player. It definitely helps to show you the talent that is around the country. It helps you to basically compare yourself and it really shows you what you have compared to the best in the country.

Cole: What are your thoughts on your performance during your senior season at Klein High School this year?

Purke: This year was a little different. We had a great team last year. We went into the third-round in the playoffs. This year we weren't as good. We weren't as solid. So I felt that every game I pitched, I kept my team in it. And I did well. There are other games that I did better than some, but I pitched to keep my team in the game every time and I felt it was a good year for me. I got to go out and be able to play my game and have some success with it.

Cole: You've signed with TCU. What led you to pick Coach Schlossnagle and the Horned Frogs?

Purke: In the beginning, TCU was not on my radar at all. They'd given me a call and sent me some stuff, and I wasn't really interested in their program. But what happened was that one of my trips fell through and so I had a free weekend. They called and I said, ‘Okay, I'll come up.' And then I went up and I immediately fell into place there.

The coaching staff there is a great staff. They do a really good job with pitchers—protecting pitchers and getting them stronger and better. They have a very good program, and they're always in the hunt every season now to make it to that College World Series.

Cole: I was covering the Texas/TCU Super Regional this past weekend, and someone asked Coach Schlossnagle what needed to happen for TCU to take its next step forward as a program. He said, ‘First off, Matt Purke, if you're out there, please come to school.' What are the chances of you signing with the Rangers versus making his wish come true?

Purke: Right now I don't really know. I'm still coming off yesterday and the feeling yesterday. We'll start negotiations here soon. It's going to be a tough decision, because you really have to weigh out all your options and see if what the Rangers offer is worth missing the college experience.


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