When people think about New York Yankees catching prospects the name Gary Sanchez, the Yankees’ top prospect, might come to mind. So too might Austin Romine’s name or even the since-traded Jesus Montero. However, one name that has often been overlooked is that of J.R. Murphy.
Murphy has been very quietly putting together a very nice season and has earned a promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where he has gone on an offensive tear. Since being promoted to Triple-A last week Murphy has hit .343/.425/.571 with two home runs and two doubles in 35 at-bats with five walks and five strikeouts.
Murphy, 22, was once buried so deeply on the Yankees catching prospect list that the Yankees tried to convert him to a third baseman just to keep him in the lineup. However, Murphy dedicated himself to improving defensively and has made giant strides in that department over the last couple of years, enough so that the Yankees have allowed Murphy to remain at catcher. At Double-A Trenton this season, Murphy threw out 24 of 50 runners, a 48 percent clip. At Triple-A Scranton so far he has thrown out four of 12 runners, a 33 percent clip.
Murphy’s offense also seems to finally be blossoming as he already sits just one home run away from his career high of nine set in 2012.
When the Yankees drafted Murphy in the second round of the 2009 MLB Draft they were getting what was widely considered to be the fifth best catching prospect in the draft. However, Murphy has improved his game on both sides of the plate every year and looks to be finally realizing his potential.
Murphy’s improvement, both offensively and defensively, could put him in an excellent position to make an impact at the Major League level next season. Right now, Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine are all that stand between a starting job and Murphy. It isn’t inconceivable that Murphy could emerge as the starting catcher next season.