Sean Murphy Proving To Be A Third-Round Steal
Looking back, the Athletics consider it almost a fluke that they were able to select Sean Murphy in the third round of the 2016 draft.
“He was hurt most of that spring, or he would have gone much higher,” said A's scouting director Eric Kubota. “The guys who saw him early had him evaluated far higher than we took him.”
Murphy drew enough attention that Baseball America ranked him as the 63rd-best prospect in the draft class. He had been a freshman All-American and all-Horizon League selection for Wright State as a sophomore. However, a broken right hand cost him 24 games in his junior season, and he did not hit well when he returned. But at the intense urging of area scout Rich Sparks, Kubota selected Murphy with the 88th overall pick, and the A’s suddenly had a catcher with enormous promise.
“He was everything then that you see now,” Kubota said. “We thought he would be a plus defender, but catching is the hardest position to evaluate. He has certainly exceeded our expectations.”
Three years later, Murphy has blossomed.
“His defensive skills are off the chart,” said farm director Keith Lieppman. “He was a real steal at where we were able to get him.”
Some scouts rank his arm as a legitimate 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale and project his defense as 70-grade tool. His bat has also shown glimpses of power, and the A's expect he could be a 50 hitter with 60 power. Murphy entered the season with only 705 minor league at-bats, however, so he needs to see more high-level pitching.
“We like to see a player have 1,500 to 2,000 at-bats,” Lieppman said, “so they can learn their swings and learn to make adjustments. Major league pitchers can find (hitters') weaknesses very fast, so we want them to have that experience.”
Murphy has gotten off to a strong start at Triple-A Las Vegas this year, hitting .364/.453/.509 with one home run and three doubles in his first 14 games. His defense is nearly major league ready, according to Lieppman, and with a full season of at-bats against quality pitching on tap in 2019, Murphy could be close to taking over a big league job next season.
— Early season excitement has been brewing around the development of Seth Brown, who hit six homers in his first 11 games at Las Vegas, along with a .349 average. Brown can play either corner outfield position, as well as first base, defensively.
— Outfield prospect Luis Barrera went on the injured list with a right shoulder strain, which happened diving into a base. Barrera, added to the Athletics' 40-man roster in the offseason, was off to a strong start at Double-A Midland, hitting .333/.409/.667 with two home runs, three triples and a double through his first 11 games.