The Toronto Blue Jays used their 1st round selection (16th overall) in 2004 on David Purcey. This writer was very confused why J.P. Riccardi selected a guy who was relegated to the bullpen in his final year of college due to pitching poorly. I guess 6’5” left-handed pitchers that can touch the mid to high 90’s with his fastball are worth taking a chance on.
There were many quality major leaguers selected in the 1st round prior to the Blue Jays selection. The rest of the 1st round had a few notable selections but none of the same calibre as Justin Verlander, Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann, Neil Walker, Jered Weaver, Billy Butler, and Stephen Drew who were all selected before David Purcey. Purcey was considered to have a workhorse body and the raw stuff to succeed, he just couldn’t find the strike zone.
Purcey started his pro career in 2005 with Dunedin (High-A), which wasn’t uncommon during the Ricciardi era of selecting mainly collegiate players. Purcey responded by putting up some pretty impressive strike out totals, 11.4 K/9, but he also walked batters at an alarming rate (5.3 BB/9). A lack of control/command would continue to plague Purcey throughout his major league and minor league career. His 2005 season earned a promotion to New Hampshire and Baseball America ranked him as the Blue Jays #3 prospect, behind only Dustin McGowan and Ricky Romero.
Purcey would continue a trend of racking up the K’s and issuing free passes, but was aggressively moved up the through Toronto’s system. He got his first taste of the majors in 2008, which so happened to be his best year in minors in terms of control. In true Purcey fashion, he would walk 7 batters in his first major start.
In 2009, I remember thinking that we would have two hard throwing LHP stabilizing our rotation for many years to come. Romero just came off his most successful season in AAA and Purcey had a couple of call-ups in 2008. We all know how this has turned out for both these pitchers. For the next 2 years Purcey would be the essence of a 4A player, teasing fans and management alike with his fastball and his strikeout numbers, but once in the majors would inevitably disappoint.
In 2010, management decided to move Purcey into the bullpen, which produced some pretty good results.
Toronto had enough of Purcey’s inconsistencies and traded him to Oakland A’s in 2011. Oakland traded him a few months later to Detroit. With Detroit, Purcey would walk 20 batters in 18.1 innings. Purcey would not get back to the majors until 2013, pitching for the Chicago White Sox. But even after putting up some decent number in the Chicago bullpen, he was exposed in the past rule V draft.
This spring David Purcey will be once again fighting for a major league job with the White Sox as the second LH out of the pen behind Scott Downs. There is no denying Purcey has a major league fastball and curveball, so if he is fails to secure a spot in the WhiteSox bullpen there will be another team willing to take a flier on him.
Good Luck in 2014 David Purcey.