Prospect Profile: J.R. Murphy


J.R. Murphy

J.R. Murphy | C

Raised in Bradenton, Florida, John Ryan Murphy was a bit of a late bloomer. He missed his junior season of high school with a knee injury that required surgery, and didn’t make much of a name for himself until he starred in various showcase events the summer before his senior year. During his senior year at the prestigious IMG Academy, Murphy led the 31-1-0 Panthers in games played (31), batting average (.627), on-base percentage (.686), slugging percentage (1.235),  runs scored (56), hits (64), doubles (17), homers (11), and runs batted in (66) while striking out only four times in 104 at-bats. The Panthers played in four tournaments throughout the season, and Murphy was named MVP of all four.

Baseball America rated Murphy the 12th best prospect in the state and 95th best prospect overall heading into the 2009 Draft. Keith Law rated him the 88th best prospect in the class. Despite having considerable depth behind the plate, the Yankees selected Murphy with their second pick, #76 overall, which they received as compensation for failing to sign second rounder Scott Bittle in 2008. Committed to Miami, his signing wasn’t announced until the morning of the August 17th deadline because he received a well above slot $1.25M bonus.

Pro Debut
After signing, the Yankees assigned Murphy to their Rookie Level Gulf Coast League affiliate, allowing him to play right in his backyard in Tampa. He played pretty much every day after signing, spending most of his time at designated hitter rather than behind the plate to help ease him into pro ball. Murphy picked up his first hit (a single) in his second career at-bat, and hit .333-.405-.485 overall.

After the season, Murphy participated in regular old fall instructional league as well as the Yanks’ instruction league in the Dominican.

Scouting Report
The first thing everyone notices about Murphy is his swing and hitting ability. He has a simple, compact, and level swing that produces good bat speed and is conducive to line drives. Combined with a disciplined approach, Murphy should have no trouble hitting for average as he climbs the ladder. At 6′-0″ tall and 190 lbs, he stands to add muscle as he fills out, which should allow him to drive a healthy amount of balls out of the park down the road.

Murphy’s an above average athlete, though he’s not quite as good of a runner as you’d expect, and will only slow down as he matures. Defensively, he didn’t start catching until his senior year of high school, so he’s very raw behind the dish. He does have a strong and accurate arm, though he needs experience at just about everything the position demands. Murphy’s athletic enough that he can play other positions – including third base – but the Yankees are going to try to extract as much value as possible out of him before making a switch.

Here’s a blurry clip of Murphy going deep in a late February game.

2010 Outlook
Because he’s still relatively new to catching, Murphy is a candidate to start the season in Extending Spring Training before joining Short Season Staten Island once their season starts in June. His bat is ready for a full season league, however the presence of several other high profile catching prospects ahead of him allows to Yanks to take their time with Murphy.

My Take
I’m a big fan of both the pick and Murphy. The kid can flat out hit, which is obviously the most important part of the equation, but I also like that he should have no difficulty becoming an asset in a corner outfield spot should the whole catching thing not work out. Versatility is always a plus. The Yanks have the deepest collection of backstop prospects in baseball, and Murphy just might be best pure hitter of the crop not named Jesus.

Photo Credit: IMG Baseball Academy

Categories : Prospect Profiles
  • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

    Mike—are you concerned at all about the knee? Generally speaking, you don’t like hearing “knee surgery” and “Catcher” in the same sentence, especially for a guy that young.

    • Mike Axisa

      Not really, it was a just a torn ACL that was a bit of a freak thing. Obviously it’s a serious injury, but I don’t see it as a long term problem.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        Considering that John Elway played his entire NFL career with out an ACL, I would say you’re right.

        • Keanu Reeves

          Fun fact of the day right there.

        • emac2

          Catching and QB are so much alike in terms of knee stress after all.

        • ROBTEN

          More Fun Facts: John Elway put up a .318/.432/.464 in SS with the Oneonta Yankees in 1982, before being declared a B-U-S-T!!! on a phone chat line.

          • Nick

            i am pretty sure it was not a torn acl

        • Sleepy Carl

          Doesn’t that guy from Pitt who is on the San Antonio Spurs not have any ACLs?

  • Matt Imbrogno


    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      Why the handle change?

  • CapitalT

    What is a normal schedule for someone in extended spring training? Do they practice every day an have simulated games?

    • Mike Axisa

      It’s literally exactly like regular ST, just with minor leaguers. They practice, work out, and play other Extended ST teams in actual games. They travel and everything, the whole nine.

      • Keanu Reeves

        Sounds like heaven. It would be beyond awesome to play pro ball.

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          No kidding!

          If steroids would have taken me over the top, don’t think I would have turned them down!

          • Keanu Reeves

            Yeah, I’d like to be able to say I would take the high road…but man…it’s hard to know what that decision would be like, especially if you had a legitimate shot.

            • Megatron

              You’d probably end up making movies like The Replacements.

              • Keanu Reeves

                It took me thirteen minutes too long to get that joke.

      • Dave M

        Sounds good sign me up. I’m 41 years old and learning to hit lefty because my sore left elbow hurts when I hit righty. :-)

        • Mac1

          Omar Minaya would like to know who your agent is…

        • The Scout

          You can be the Yankees’ left fielder in 2009 — I’m sure you would be a cheap alternative. Call Cashman in the office tomorrow.

  • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

    Day 1) Practice

    Day 2) Practice

    Day 3) Practice

    Day 4) Game!

    Day 5) Practice

    Day 6) Drink blood of rivals!

    Day 7) Practice.

    Rinse and repeat.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

      With a reply fail, no less. Damn!

    • Thomas

      Day 1) Practice

      I got rid of the C’s because they represent Czars.

    • ROBTEN

      JMK: “So you and Cashman got caught up on Saturday about practice?”

      Murphy: “We’re sitting here, and I’m supposed to be this great prospect, and we’re talking about practice. I mean listen, we’re sitting here talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, but we’re talking about practice. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last but we’re talking about practice man. How silly is that?”

      JMK: “But drinking the blood of your rivals, I have to assume you’re OK with that, right?”

      Murphy: “Yeah, no problem.”


  • A.D.

    With any luck him & Jesus could be one hell of a hitting combo

    • The Scout

      Yes, and while one is catching, the other can stand behind the home plate ump to scoop up all the pitches that get by.

  • vin

    In terms of ceiling, how do you rank them?
    Jesus > Romine > Murphy > Sanchez > Higashioka?
    Am I missing anyone?

    • Mike bk

      sanchez might be 2nd in terms of ceiling if the hype is real, but we wont know that til next year.

  • Mike bk

    so how do you break out the catchers next year?
    AA-Romine and Jesus
    GCL-Sanchez and Perkins

    • Keanu Reeves

      Montero is going to start in Scranton.

      • Mike bk

        i wouldnt have a problem w that, but i dont think it happens.

        • Keanu Reeves

          Lol. Yeah, I wouldn’t speculate if there weren’t reports. I’m not that smart.

        • Drew

          I read that they’ve already decided.

    • vin

      Jesus starts in AAA. It was reported a day or two ago.

      • Mike bk

        ok, guess i missed that, thanks.

    • Joe R

      Jesus will be at AAA

      • larryf

        great. I will take my son to several Scranton games this year and pay $14 to sit behind the dugout and get Montero’s autograph (among others). Scranton baseball is great!

        • Dave M

          Looks like I’ll be signing up for this year. They carry most of the SWB Yanks games.

    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      Besides Jesus at AAA, looks like you got it figured out.

      So only Tampa doesn’t have a catching prospect next year? That’s some pretty nice depth at an important position.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        It sucks for me though.

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          You live in Sunny Daytona. No sympathy for you man!

        • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

          I’ll get out to Staten Island and report back then, I guess. A deal’s a deal.

  • J

    Hey Mike,

    Not to be a jerk, but the last paragraph reads, “the kid can fat out hit.” I believe it’s supposed to be flat, unless you are just being mean, lol.

    • A.D.

      Maybe if it was the Chris Smith prospect post.

      • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex


      • vin

        Perhaps an homage to Hideki Irabu?

  • Keanu Reeves

    It’d be great if Murphy was with SI this summer. When they play the Lake Monsters in Burlington it’s dirt cheap to go see the games. And this may be the last year of pro baseball in VT.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

      I used to check them out every so often. No one goes to Centennial. It’s barren.

      • Keanu Reeves

        And the field is awful. We played legion ball there during the summer and no one likes the field.

        Now that UVM got rid of their baseball program that place will probably be torn down sooner than later.

        • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

          That field really is terrible. I used to babysit for my best friend’s daughter on Colchester Ave and we’d play around there. There are frickin’ sinkholes around RF!

          But with the budget problems at UVM they might find the cost of tearing it down too prohibitive. It may just stay as is for a while, unless Fogel and his cronies erect some ridiculous building proposal in its place.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    He only drew 7 walks last year? BUST!!!11!!

  • vtbando

    Wow – two fellow Vermonters — I’ve been lurking on this site for a couple years now – not sure I ever posted before. Anyway, last time I caught the SI squad at Centennial was when Jason Arnold tossed a no-hitter against the Lake Monsters — or were they the VT Expos back then??) Whatever happened to that guy — dealt to the Blue Jays and residing somewhere in the depths of their farm system?

    • Drew
    • Keanu Reeves

      I think they were the Expos then, I remember hearing about that.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

      I was a ‘flatlander’ attending college at Champlain, so I’m not really a Vermonter. In any event, Arnold was before my time, but it seems he’s out of baseball now. He’s now a pitching coach for Bethune-Cookman College.

  • Jake H

    KG at BP ranked Murphy our 9th best prospect in the system. Pretty impressive.

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