Left-hander Matt Purke, the third-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, will be introduced by the Nationals during a Thursday afternoon press conference.
Purke received a Major League contract Monday night and was put on the 40-man roster. It was reported that Purke received a four-year, $4.4 million deal, but a source said the deal is less than the reported dollar figure.
The left-hander has the ability of a top-round talent — and was selected No. 14 overall by the Rangers in 2009, coming out of high school — but he came with injury concerns.
Purke had a dominant freshman season that saw him go 21-1 for Texas Christian University, but elbow bursitis shut down the sophomore after 11 starts this season.
Before agreeing to terms, Purke took a physical and pitched in front of general manager Mike Rizzo and a member of his staff. Purke showed that he was healthy and the team was willing to sign him.
“[Purke] was so open and honest about what he went through,” Rizzo said Monday. “He allowed us full access to him. Not many Draft choices allow you to do an MRI or arthrogram and shoot dye into the bodies for us to get a clear evaluation of their status.”
Nationals first baseman Michael Morse continued his hot hitting during a 6-4 victory over the Reds on Tuesday night at Nationals Park. Morse went 2-for-4 against the Reds to raise his batting average to .323, which ranks third in the National League.
The first hit for Morse came in the first inning when he doubled to right field, scoring Rick Ankiel. Two innings later, Morse hit his 21st home run of the season, a solo shot over the right-field wall.
“He’s been really consistent all year,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Since I’ve been here, he really hasn’t had a bad game. He missed one day [after being hit by a pitch] and came back and hit ropes the next day. I don’t know where we’d be without him. He’s been awfully good.”
Although Morse has done an above average job at first base, Johnson said he will put Morse back in left field before the season comes to an end. Morse is expected to be a corner outfielder in 2012 once first baseman Adam LaRoche returns to the lineup. LaRoche has missed most of this season because of shoulder problems.
“I’m thinking at some point in time this season I might move him back [to left field],” Johnson said. “Ideally, when LaRoche comes back, we’ll have LaRoche at first and probably Morse in left field. We’re going to have Morse somewhere every day.”
Morse doesn’t care where he plays. He said starting his professional career as a shortstop has made him adapt to other positions.
“I don’t mind it. I look at the lineup and whatever it says, I play,” Morse said. “I think playing shortstop has helped me adjust at any position. I like the infield. I’ve always liked the infield, but if I’m in the outfield, I’m in the outfield. If I’m catching, I’m catching.”
The Nationals agreed to terms with left-hander Kylin Turnbull, their fourth-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
In 2011, Turnbull went 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA, four complete games and two shutouts in 11 starts last season with Santa Barbara City College.
He also had 92 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 80 innings pitched en route to being named First-Team All-Western State Conference.
Turnbull was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft but did not sign.
After the Nationals selected third baseman Anthony Rendon with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, some wondered if he would make a position switch because they already have Ryan Zimmerman at the position for years to come.
But general manager Mike Rizzo said on Monday night that Rendon will remain at third. But a baseball source indicated that Rendon could move to another position like second or first base in the future.
In 63 games, Rendon hit .327 with six home runs, 27 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .520 for Rice University. The Nationals feel Rendon is on the fast track to the big leagues.