J.R. Murphy Scouting Report (2010)
If you have yet to check out the program down at in Florida, it’s worth becoming familiar with as they have produced a number of draft picks over the past few years including J.R. Murphy, Tyler Pastornicky of the Atlanta Braves, and Kyle Allen of the New York Mets. Murphy can be considered the “crown jewel” of the program thus far as his 1.25 million signing bonus is to my knowledge the highest total any IMG product has received. But does Murphy have the game to back up the price tag? Like so many catching prospects in the “Sally”, his value hinges on his remaining behind the plate which in my mind will be an uphill battle.
Physical Projection: In game action, Murphy looked to be his listed height/weight of 6’0″, 190 lbs. At this point, he’s an average athlete to a tick above with room to fill out as he matures. Of course added size may negatively affect his athleticism, so the Yankees organization will need to handle his physical development carefully. He’s definitely more fluid at the plate than behind the dish where he can look awkward at times. He’s a better catcher than Jesus Montero was at the same level, but Montero was a year younger and had a significantly better bat. For Murphy, he will have to be a well rounded catcher to maximize his value as a prospect.
Offense: Murphy possesses quick wrists and appeared to have above average bat control as he was able to fight off multiple pitches in working deep counts. His set up in the box could be a bit stronger, but is only in need of a minor tweak to bring his hands back a touch. I did like the fact he was pretty quiet in the box and did not have much excess movement to hamper his timing mechanism. At this point, Murphy projects as a prospect who will combine moderate power with strong on base skills.
Albeit a small sample, Murphy posted a 5/14 K/BB ratio over his final ten games displaying a better batting eye than at any point during the 2010 season. His post all-star line of .261/.345/.415 also included six of his seven total home runs so the uptick in power seems to have been accompanied by a more patient approach. This is a strong indicator of better things to come in 2011, but not without some hesitation. Plain and simple, Murphy is an offensive “tweener” anywhere on the diamond other than at catcher where his bat players quite well. If forced to move off of catcher, Murphy becomes a 1B/3B/LF/DH option and just does not project for the “thump” needed to make an impact. This storyline is going to stick with Murphy and will continue to come up in prospect conversations about him for years to come.
Defense: Behind the plate, Murphy is very rough around the edges. A better athlete than most catchers, Murphy has the potential to improve more quickly than most, but there’s plenty of work to do. In between innings, Murphy was registering pop times of 2.6 seconds to second base. While this is not an accurate portrayal of his in game times, having played the position for a decade, I’d be willing to bet Murphy’s pop times sit at around 2.20 seconds. This would leave him a below average thrower at this point. In seeing him throw, and then dissecting video, I’ve identified a couple of mechanical issues I’m confident the Yankees will target.
The first area is his transfer. In reviewing the video, it’s easy to see Murphy catches the ball one-handed with his glove before transferring it to his throwing hand. Funneling using both hands is a great way to pick up a tenth or so which would be a major improvement. Additionally, Murphy still throws like a position player. His wind up and slight hitch in the back of his throwing motion needs attention as he should be bringing the baseball directly to his ear. As much as a cannon behind the dish is impressive, the way to cut pop times is through footwork and improving throwing mechanics.
In terms of receiving, Murphy has a loose glove and doesn’t seem to have a grasp of the nuances of framing pitches. I’d also like to see him better secure his throwing hand with men on base to protect his thumb better. A catcher can play through a broken finger, but a thumb is quite possibly a season ending injury.
Speed: While an above average athlete for a catcher, the build up of innings on his legs will slow him down even further with time. He’s not a base clogger yet, but he’ll get there.
From my experience scouting the Charleston RiverDogs over the past three years, I have to admit there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason as to how the Yankees compensate their draft picks and Murphy is no exception. In most instances, I can turn to the signing bonuses to get a good idea of players to target during a series. With the Yankees, it’s just not that simple as the mixed bag of what takes the field usually always surprises. At this point, Murphy is a good, but not great prospect whose value is strongly tied to his being able to remain behind the dish. If @mikeaxisa is correct and Murphy has been working out at 3B/OF in instructs, then his value as a prospect just received a proverbial punch in the stomach.
23 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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