John R. Murphy, or J. R. Murphy, 19, is a right handed hitting catcher who is listed at 6-0 and 190-pounds. He was born and raised in Bradenton, Florida. Murphy went under the radar as a prospect after he missed his entire junior year due to knee surgery. His senior year was spent at the IMG Academy where he hit .627 with a 1.235 OPS while only striking out four times in 104 at bats.
Murphy was ranked as the 12th best prospect in Florida state and the 95th best prospect overall by Baseball America. The Yankees took him with their 2nd pick in the 2009 draft. Despite being committed to Miami University, Murphy signed with the Yankees for $1.25 million.
After signing late Murphy participated in only nine games in the Gulf Coast League. There he hit .333 with an .890 OPS. Following his brief debut in Staten Island Murphy went to fall instructs and Dominican instructs where he focused on bringing his catching game up to par with his offensive abilities.
The following year he debuted with the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs. In 87 games there he hit just .255 with a .703 OPS. Despite the poor numbers his patience at the plate was impressive and he showed real progress behind the plate.
In 2010 he split time behind the plate with Kyle Higashioka so that one was always the DH and the other was behind the plate. This was done in order to break Murphy in slowly during his first year. After the season though he spent time in instructs learning to play both right field and third base to improve his options.
Murphy’s best tool is his hit tool. Most scouts rave about his polish at the plate. He also shows a lot of patience during his at bats and never really gives any away. Many believe that he will eventually reach his potential as a .300 hitter. The problem is that at this point it is a little early to tell if he’ll have good power or not.
Last season Murphy stole four bases in nine attempts. That should tell you what you need to know about his running. He isn’t catcher slow, but don’t expect him to be a base stealer.
Considering how little he actually caught in high school, he is a strong defender, but he still has a lot of strides to make. Meanwhile the Yankees have been working him out in right field and at third base. This may have more to do with the fact that the Yankees like his bat, but could be afraid that with so much catching depth they don’t want his position to hold him back. His ultimate position may not be determined until 2012 though.
2010 was Murphy’s first full season as a pro and as a starting catcher. It was a lot for him to take on in his first year so his poor numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. It is promising that his OPS got better each month and that he hit six homers in the final two months of the season. Considering the fact that he was one of the youngest players in the league and it was actually a pretty promising year.
Because of his age and the amount of depth the Yankees have behind the plate it could be a while until Murphy reaches the Bronx. The Yankees will likely take a long look at him as a future catcher in 2011 and if they have any doubts at all they could move him out from behind the plate permanently. If they do that it could actually speed up his development to the point where he could easily be in the majors by 2013. If he sticks behind the plate it would be more like 2014.