J.R. Murphy cracks Baseball America’s list of the top Double-A Eastern League prospects

Monday Night Open Thread
Feinsand: Mutual interest between Yankees and Carlos Beltran

Baseball America wrapped up the Yankees-relevant portion of their league top 20 prospects series yesterday, posting the Double-A Eastern League (no subs. req’d). SS Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), 3B Miguel Sano (Twins), and RHP Noah Syndergaard (Mets) make up the top three of a generally star-studded list.

C J.R. Murphy was the only Yankees farmhand to make the cut, and he ranked 18th. The 22-year-old hit .268/.352/.451 (116 wRC+) with six homers in 211 plate appearances for Double-A Trenton this summer before being bumped up to Triple-A Scranton (117 wRC+ in 257 plate appearances) and eventually finishing the season in the big leagues.

“Scouts now seen him as a potential regular catcher as his defensive chops have improved,” said the subscriber-only write-up. “He has a line-drive stroke that he uses to spray balls to all fields …. Managers around the league noted how well Murphy handled Trenton’s pitching staff and consistently ranked him as one of the better catch-and-throw guys in the circuit … His solid-average arm is accurate and aided by a quick transfer.”

Neither OF Slade Heathcott and OF Tyler Austin did not make the list, obviously. In the subscriber-only chat, Josh Norris said “there were significant questions about [Heathcott’s] plate discipline, makeup and being injury-prone,” while “most evaluators I surveyed only thought of [Austin] as a fourth-outfielder type.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. OF Ramon Flores simply doesn’t have enough power to be considered a top prospect, Norris added.

All of the Yankees-relevant lists have now been posted: Rookie Gulf Coast League (six players ranked), Short Season NY-Penn League (one), Low-A South Atlantic League (one), High-A Florida State League (two), and Triple-A Intentional League (zero). The rankings actually do a pretty good job of summarizing the state of the team’s farm system. Lots of interesting talent at the lower levels but nothing at the upper levels to help the team in the immediate future, either as trade bait or by stepping into the roster. System in a nutshell.

Monday Night Open Thread
Feinsand: Mutual interest between Yankees and Carlos Beltran
  • ropeadope

    Mike, remove the double negative from sentence 1 of paragraph 4 and you’re good.

  • mike

    This is a fantastic system…like a broken record….great prospects at the lower levels, and significantly diminished returns either thru injury, attitude or ability by the time they should be invited to spring training.

    Thats what happens when poor management refuses to recognize its issues….if they cannot develop HS or “reach” players, at least draft a majority of them from college, with relatively mature players (in attitude and skill set) that can fill in some gaps…. like Phelps or Robertson…and maybe you can catch lightening in a bottle as well.

    to continue down this road is foolish – and Ill never forget being left at the alter by Cole….what an utter embarrassment.

    • mitch

      How were the yankees at fault for the cole situation?

      • MannyGeee

        Obviously by not losing 85 games the year before to secure drafting him at a higher position. Try and keep up…. #CashmanFailed

        • mike

          actually because if you are the yankees and have unlimited resources you do not use your top pick on a guy who spurns you.
          I would hope that management used some resources to determine the desire of Cole to pass up college, and since there was no indication to the public he would (despite him being a yankee fan) the Yanks blew a pick on him. So, they lost the opportunity to draft anyone from that same class, and a year development in the system for that player.

          that is a failure. Its not the player, its the decision making process – and thats why cashman failed.

          • Ed

            Before the draft Cole told them he was willing to sign. After being picked, he said he was willing to sign, but because Boras is his agent, he wasn’t going to negotiate until close to the signing deadline. About a week before the deadline, when Boras was finally willing to start negotiating, Cole changed his mind and decided to go to college.

          • MannyGeee

            About 1/2 of what you said is made up.

            • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

              yeah but it’s like marketing…you never know which half…

              • Robinson Tilapia

                I laughed.

          • Ghost of Joe Dugan

            Actually in the pre-draft meeting with his family they indicated he would be willing to forego college and sign. At some point he and his father changed their mind and told the Yankees to not even submit and offer. I seem to recollect Boras being beside himself that the family refused to even hear an offer. Frustrating? You bet. Failure? Not even close.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Yes, because everything BA writes should be taken at face value.

      Every prospect can bomb. Put the internet away and let’s see how these players’ stories play out before we write their career obituary.

      • mike

        Agreed – but the tenor of the team’s management, the fans and the construction of the roster just gives additional ammo to their analysis and opinion, so I would default to their ratings until proven wrong, unless you have confidence in any of the three guys mentioned actually contributing to the Yanks in the next 2-3 years

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I have confidence in Austin/Heathcott. Yes. It also comes with knowledge of what I said before, and that’s that folks can, and will, bomb, regardless of their pedigree.

    • MannyGeee

      OK, I’ll bite.

      How *should* the Yankees proceed?

    • B-Rando

      While I don’t agree with the overall tone of your post, I do agree with the underlying point…

      The Yankees system for the past 5+ years has been “lots of interesting talent at the lower levels and not much high end talent in the upper levels”. The Yanks are completely inept at developing talent. Sure they are not going to hit on every single interesting prospect in the lower levels, but they are getting almost nothing out of the system.

      They need to uproot the entire player development department, including the training staff in the lower levels. Too many prospects flame out, and too many of them are getting reinjured upon rehab.

      I understand this is a very broad take on the entire system, but I think there is a institutional problem going on here with the Yankees and their farm system. They really need to roll some heads and get some fresh faces in there.

      • mike

        I actually didn’t disagree with the “big picture” of cashman and the minors…its the execution and fall-back plans which are pathetic.

        I understand the Yanks determined they could not be able to sign aces/all-stars in the future, and so took really aggressive plays in the draft ( like Brackman or Bettances) in the hopes of getting an ace on the cheap, or by being a bully with money in the later rounds with hard-sign picks.

        That makes sense – if it works.

        However, after basically a decade of scouting and training, literally hundreds of draft picks/international FA signings and tens of millions spent on them, the Yanks are still luckiest with re-treads or Mexican league guys (like Nuno or Aceves)and cant develop a full-time impact player (maybe Robertson or Gardner if we stretch it…and thats over 6 years ago as well….).

        So -at what point does the exection and decision-making process get called into question?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Why are Robertson and Gardner stretching it?


      Very well said! Did I mention very well said!

      They can’t get invited to Spring Training when they are holding onto 40 year old’s like grim death ;)

  • Pee Wee Herman Ruth

    The Yankees’ system is full of C prospects (Romine, Murphy, Sanchez and perhaps Cervelli) and we have a limited payroll (this year anyway)…let’s spend our money on McCann!

    Ya right

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Doris, hide the children. Someone said something bad about Yankee prospects.

    On the other hand, JR Murphy, bitches. He may look twelve, but he’s going to be a star.

    • MannyGeee

      THIS. Kids gonna be a stud

  • http://twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    I see a McCann and either Murphy or Romine backup as the perfect pairing. You could treat that situation much like the Yankees did with Jorge.

    If it’s Romine as the backup to McCann, then he starts they year in the ML and catch McCann about 100-100 games, with Romine getting the rest. You could then use McCann as a DH in some of the games he doesn’t catch.

    With Murphy, you’d have to start him in 3A and hopefully bring him the bigs in August or as needed based on production (hopefully) or injury. In that case, I’m fine with Stewart or anyone of his ilk as the backup.

    I wonder if Romine could garner trade value as a backup for a season? Probably not, but there’s an obvious log jam at the position.

    Sanchez is realistically, best case, 2 seasons away from cracking the regular ML lineup. So Romine and Murph could backup for 2 seasons, and then you can trade one, or trade Sanchez even.

    McCann’s value lies in being an actual real Major League catcher and as a left-handed power stick. You probably get 2 full-time seasons as a #1 catcher, 1 season as a split, and then you can get by with him as a 1B/DH for the last season (on a 4 year deal).

    • I’m One

      Yup, agree with this pretty much entirely. McCann should be sought provided they can get him at the right price (based on all the moving pieces of Cano, A-Rod, backup or starting SS, etc.).

    • Darren

      If Romine or Murphy are good enough to catch 60 games, then you shouldn’t sign McCann (at the expense of another FA signing). If they’re only qualified to be back-ups, then MacCann should be catching 125 games any way.

  • Vern Sneaker

    I’m for the McCann signing because he’s a known quantity and you just have to hope he’s not going to be declining due to his shoulder surgery, though he did hit 20 HRs. On the other hand, 24% caught stealing. I like Murphy best of the Cervelli/Stewart/Romine/Murphy consortium, but he’s still a mere prospect with just 27 PA.

    • Caballo Sin Nombre

      This is exactly why the Yankees can’t develop young players. 90% of the time there’s some middle of the road veteran who is a better option in the short term.

  • entonces

    Interesting that no Trenton players on the September roster were good enough to make BA’s Top 20 list. Somehow, though, this ultra-young squad was good enough to steamroll rivals on way to league title. BA notorious for compiling its lists early. Guess they missed Austin’s return from DL — when healthy again, a completely different player from guy who struggled in mid-summer.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      This. You really have to wonder what exactly they were looking at here with Austin. There’s a very strong possibility he was playing hurt for a chunk of the season.

      Again, this is all food for thought. They don’t score the games based on scouts’ projections.

      • Caballo Sin Nombre

        The basic tautological fact is that a Top 20 list only has room for 20 names. If a guy gets hurt enough to impact his year, he’s going to move down the list. Maybe Austin would have been #7 if he had been healthy? Who knows.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Possibly, sure, and maybe he’s a fourth outfielder. We’ve heard the high-floor, low-ceiling thing with him before, and I supposed part-timer MLBer would be something resembling a high floor. I just have a hard time buying too much into something which looks at his 2013 without taking injury and the good SSS at the end into account.

          Time will tell.

          • Cool Lester Smooth

            From what I understand, nobody thinks he won’t be at least a 4th OF, and some people think he might be more.

            That’s a solid guy to have.

        • emac2

          If a developing player has a bad year due to injury it doesn’t mean much about his future ability.

          If your top 10 list is a fantasy value ranking than maybe you’re right but otherwise a rating system for developing players should jump around based on every streak.

          I would consider the fact that Austin came back from injury and consolidated his gains in terms of quick advancement the year before as being a bigger positive than his injury is a risk factor. His overall numbers in AA mean about as much to his future as our opinions and yet too many people seem to think that is what is being ranked.

  • RetroRob

    History shows a significant percentage of BA’s comments on players in a given year will turn out to be wrong on some level. I don’t mean on the Yankees, I mean overall. In other words, things change. Murphy last year was not projected as a starter and was thought of as highly, now his stock has improved and many think he can be a starter. Scouts last year though Austin was going to be a starting OFer, now he’s a 4th OFer.

    Fans were overly enthusiastic last year, now they are overly dour. I’m sure 2014 will bring yet another mood change among the fan base!

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Thank you.

      This should be a sticky at the top of this thread.

  • Vern Sneaker

    Think Jesus Montero, the projected masher 40 HR stud. Turns out he couldn’t hit right-handed big-league pitching at all. 2011: .216; 2012: .228 Over .300 against southpaws.

    There are always a handful of sure things coming up — for the enitre minor leagues. A few. Everybody else is a maybe. We all know that, but like everybody else I keep geting hyped and being wrong. Decades of doing that. I guess that’s what being a fan is.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      I think you have to give the Mariners some blame for that, too.

      I mean, ruining elite offensive prospects is kind of their thing at this point.

  • jobasphatstache

    At some point, you stop believing in coulda shoulda wouldas. The deck chairs cannot be rearranged – Oppenheimer must update his resume.

  • Caballo Sin Nombre


  • Dick M

    No one is saying that BA is infallible or that prospects in general don’t bust.

    But when we have ONE prospect on the AAA and AA list combined it speaks volumes about our drafting and development folks.

  • j

    Any possibility Murph can play third? If I recall correctly he did a little 3b back in ’11. He has more positional value at C, but we are deeper at catcher with Cervelli and Romine.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      He’s a lot better than either Cervelli or Romine.