On Monday, right-hander Sean Murphy made his first start in a big-league spring training game. The right-hander impressed, allowing just a hit and a walk in 4.1 innings versus a Texas Rangers line-up that included Elvis Andrus, Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Alex Rios and Mitch Moreland.
During the off-season, we ranked Murphy as the A's 31st-best prospect. Below is the scouting report we wrote on Murphy during the off-season.
As a 33rd-round pick out of a small school, Sean Murphy has had an uphill climb to get on the prospect radar since signing in 2010. After two solid seasons in a row, however, Murphy is firmly on the A's starting pitching depth chart.
The 6'6'' right-hander was selected out of tiny Keystone College as a project prospect. It took a couple of years for Murphy to go from being a thrower to a pitcher, but things really began to click for him in 2012 when he split his season between Low-A Burlington and High-A Stockton. In 2013, Murphy began the year back in Stockton, but he was one of the first pitchers to be promoted when there was movement in the upper levels of the A's system.
After posting a 2.89 ERA in three starts with the Ports, Murphy had 25 appearances for the RockHounds. He was one of the steadiest members of the Midland rotation. In 136.2 innings, he posted a 4.08 ERA and a 121:50 K:BB. He allowed just nine homeruns and his FIP was 3.54 during his time in the Texas League.
Murphy has the look of a flame-thrower, but his fastball sits mostly in the 88-92 MPH range, although it can appear faster to batters because of Murphy's long release point. He has good command of his secondary pitches and he is able to throw them in any count. With his height and pitch-mix, Murphy has a similar profile to current A's starter Dan Straily, although the movement Murphy gets on his pitches isn't as dramatic as Straily's
"I think he does an excellent job of throwing four pitches for strikes," A's minor league pitching coordinator Scott Emerson said. "He has a curveball he can throw over the plate. He has a good change-up and that change-up keeps him in the count. If he falls behind, he can throw that change-up and the guy puts the ball into play. His fastball command is improving. He's improving with all of his pitches and he has close to five major-league average pitches that he puts over the plate."
Murphy did enough during his first stint in Double-A to warrant a promotion to Triple-A next season, but whether he begins the year on the Sacramento roster will have a lot to do with how many minor league free agent starters the A's sign this off-season. He will be 25 for most of the 2014 regular season.