Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Murphy Smith

In 2011, right-hander Murphy Smith was an integral part of a strong Stockton Ports' starting rotation that helped lead the team to the California League finals. Smith posted a 3.94 ERA and a 100:33 K:BB ratio in 137 innings for the Ports. This fall, he had the opportunity to go up against the top talents in minor league baseball in the Arizona Fall League. Donald Moore spoke with Smith.

Since being selected in the 13th round of the 2009 out of Binghamton University, he has been a workhorse out of the starting rotation. After tossing 144.1 innings in 2010, Smith threw 137 more innings during the 2011 regular season and then added another 26 innings during the Arizona Fall League.

Smith's 2011 campaign was the best of his young career. Despite pitching in a hitter-friendly league, Smith posted a career-best 3.94 ERA. He induced 1.72 groundouts for every flyout and struck-out more than three batters for every batter he walked.

After that success and his experience pitching in the AFL, Smith is working this off-season towards making the jump to Double-A and beyond in 2012. Donald Moore spoke with Smith recently about his 2011 campaign and his goals for next season.

Donald Moore: Murphy, how was your experience pitching in the AFL?

Murphy Smith: It was a great time. Obviously, it was a different experience for me. I never really had pitched above A-ball in a higher level, so there was a lot of really talented players up there. It was a lot fun and a really good learning experience for myself.

DM: What did you work on?

MS: Being consistent with my delivery. I kind of have a tendency to fall off a little bit off the first-base side. It's just a mechanical thing and I'm kind of really working on hammering out the consistency with that, so I can repeat it every time. Obviously keep repeating my pitches.

DM: What would you like to improve on?

MS: When I was consistent with [my delivery], I was throwing well. It's just a matter of repeating really.

DM: What are your goals for next season?

MS: You know, obviously, I hope to start in Double-A and then make the jump maybe to Triple-A at some point in the year. If not, have a good solid year in Double-A and kind of feel good about how I'm throwing going into the off-season next year.

DM: What are your best pitches?

MS: Kind of hard to say. I would say probably my fastball and change-up. The curveball and cutter are good, but I feel like currently I just need to be a little bit more consistent with my fastball and change-up location, so I get more outs with those two pitches.

DM: Have you always been a starter throughout your career?

MS: Yeah, the only time I only relieved actually was when I was in my freshman year in college. Then the summer after that I began starting again. It's pretty much all I've known.

DM: When did you find out you were going to the instructional league?

MS: They usually tell us right about mid-August or so.

DM- What have you learned from pitching coach Jim Czajkowski?

MS: Basically, the same stuff I've been working on all year. He's another voice and another set of eyes to kind of tell me more or less the same stuff I've been hearing.

DM: What is it like to play guys that are the top notch prospects from other organizations in the Arizona Fall League?

MS: Yeah, like I said, it was a really great experience to hear what those guys have done and some of the guys on our team alone were actually in the big leagues. So to hear stories of what's it like and and basically telling us what's it like to have their dreams come true is great. Obviously, I'm kind of hoping to get those same feelings and tell those same stories.

DM: Murphy, thank you so much for your time and best of luck to you.

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