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Four Frogs drafted by MLB, all eligible to return to TCU

Four Horned Frogs were selected in the second day of the Major League Baseball draft on Tuesday, highlighted by the third round selection of pitcher Matt Purke by the Washington Nationals.

The Washington Nationals selected Purke as the No. 96 pick. Purke, who was named unanimous Freshman of the Year by Baseball America in 2010, went undefeated throughout the entire 2010 season.

Purke was also instrumental in leading the Frogs to their first ever College World Series appearance that year.

Purke’s sophomore season was marred by injuries, and he appeared in only 11 games this season, presumably causing his draft stock to drop because of concerns over his health.

For his career, Purke has a 21-1 record with an ERA of 2.61. He threw 169 innings, striking out 203 batters while walking only 54. Purke was initially drafted out in the first round by the Texas Rangers, but enrolled at TCU after the two parties failed to reach an agreement.

Purke said he was excited about getting drafted once again.

“I am very happy and very excited about the selection. The Nationals are an up and coming organization and they are doing a lot of good things. I am excited to do business with them. It’s always a good thing to be drafted and there’s never a bad day when you are selected.”

Purke also said he’ll know what to expect from the contract negotiations this time around, and will hopefully be an easier experience than his last draft. While he didn’t say whether he will come back to the university next season, he did say he has enjoyed his time as a Horned Frog.

“I have grown a lot,” Purke said about his time at the university. “I’ve learned a lot about the game and a lot about me as a person. It’s been a wonderful experience; the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Coach Jim Schlossnagle said he was honored to have coached the pitcher in his two years at the university, and will be happy for him in whatever he decides to do in the future.

“It’s always an honor to be drafted and we are excited for Matt,” Schlossnagle said. “He is certainly more talented than the slot he was drafted, but we all understand the many facets that go into these things. We support Matt in any decision he chooses to make and would certainly welcome him back to TCU if he decides to return.”

Kevin Goldstein, a writer for Baseball Prospectus, said the Nationals will do their best to sign the sophomore lefty.

“It’s risky to draft him anywhere based on the money he’ll ask for, but the Nationals will definitely be aggressive in trying to get it done,” Goldstein wrote in an email. “It’s certainly risky, but you do see this happen. Basically, the Nationals used the pick to have exclusive negotiating rights.”

TCU shortstop Taylor Featherston was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the fifth round of the draft with the 168th overall pick. Featherston, a junior, played in all 62 games in the 2011 season, ending the year with a .333 batting average, an on base percentage of .410 and 42 runs batted in.

Kyle Winkler was later drafted in the 10th round with the 304th overall pick. Winkler had to come out after only 2/3 of an inning in the 8-4 loss to Oral Roberts on Sunday, when he aggravated his arm injury he sustained earlier in the season. Winkler has started 46 games in his career at TCU, good for the fourth-most in school history. The junior has a career record of 27-6, tied for the third-most in school history. In 281 innings pitched, Winkler struck out 239 batters and posted a 2.95 ERA.

Goldstein said Winkler would likely have been a late first round or early second round pick if not for the injury.

Jason Coats was taken off the rack in the 12th round with the 365th overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles. Coats, a junior, also played in every game this season, finishing with a batting average of .325, eight home runs and 56 runs batted in for 2011.

Purke and the rest of the draftees have until 11:59 p.m. August 14 to come to terms on a contract. Since all Horned Frogs drafted have at least one more year of eligibility, they can decline to sign with their respective teams and come back for another season.

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