A life-changing decision awaits the St. Louis Cardinals 31st round selection, J.D. Murders, in the coming weeks before the deadline for draftees to sign on July 15th.
Texas Tech or pro ball?
Murders, a resident from the heart of Cardinals country in Bolivar, Missouri, has grown up watching the team under the arch in St. Louis, but also has reported strong ties with the Red Raiders coaching staff and committed to Texas Tech University back in 2014. For now, Murders is taking an even-keeled approach to this process, but isn’t reluctant to express his willingness to turn pro immediately.
Murders became the third player from Polk County to be drafted. Bolivar’s head baseball coach Brad Roweton commented to the Bolivar Herald-Free Press three days after the draft.
“J.D. has worked hard to get where he is, but lots of kids work hard,” Roweton told the newspaper. “J.D. is extremely talented and has a high baseball IQ. The Cardinals (would) be getting a player with great hands, good speed, a strong arm and offensively a player that can hit with power and for a good average.”
“I will need to mature both on and off the field and I know that. The way my swing works will automatically transfer but I will need to get smoother and quicker in the field,” Murders added.
The Cardinals drafted Murders as a second baseman, but he has played mainly shortstop as an amateur and capped off his high school career with .463 average, six homers, 36 RBI, and tallied 27 runs scored as the marquee number three hitter in the Liberators lineup as a senior. The left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower is said to have a quick bat with pull power and has present above-average speed. Murders is comfortable on the infield and should stick at second base thanks to advanced actions, soft hands, and quick release. The consensus on Murders is that he’s projects as an offensive second baseman.
Murders garnered interest from Arkansas, Kansas State, Wichita State, and Missouri State before deciding on Texas Tech. Now he will have to decide between the Red Raiders and Cardinals. If he is to choose the latter, Murders would become the second prep prospect the Cardinals drafted and signed out of the Springfield, MO area in the last two years, joining lefty Jacob Schlesener. They also drafted and signed Missouri State products Nick Petree and Luke Voit in 2013 draft class.
In the following interview, Murders discusses the draft, his game, and his signability.
Derek Shore: When you did first get into baseball and realize your love for the game?
J.D. Murders: “It was a love at first experience kind of thing. I fell in love with the game almost instantly.”
DS: Do you have a favorite player you look up to and model your game after?
JM: “I'm a pretty big fan of (San Francisco Giants shortstop) Brandon Crawford and I've always kind of tried to play like him.”
DS: Could you take me back to draft day? How did you first find out the Cardinals drafted you and what were your emotions?
JM: “We were at K-State (Kansas State) University and I had just got done eating lunch with my Mom. We were driving and I got the text from (scout) Dirk Kinney telling me. Couldn't hold the tears back; it was a special day.”
DS: Pre-draft, did the Cardinals show the most interest in you? Did you have any idea of where you might be selected in the draft?
JM: “Yes, I had talked to Mr. Kinney prior to the draft and he was kind of walking me through it. But where I was going to be picked was still up for grabs. I didn't know.”
DS: What was it like seeing Rogersville product Jacob Schlesener drafted by the Cardinals last year and did he reach out/say anything to you as you followed suit this year?
JM: “Me and Jacob are actually pretty good friends we have talked almost weekly about it for the past few weeks. He's been like a big brother.”
DS: Approach-wise as a hitter, how would you consider yourself?
JM: “I use both gaps and try to put balls out when I can. I am a doubles guy, using both right and left center.”
DS: Defensively, the Cardinals drafted you as a second baseman, but it seems you have mostly played shortstop. What position do you feel most comfortable at?
JM: “I have played shortstop all my life, but I've played a lot a second, so either is great.”
DS: I understand you have a strong commitment to Texas Tech, but how much of a priority is it to go pro with the Cardinals?
JM: “I am proud to be signed to go play at Tech, but playing pro ball is ultimately the goal and whenever that may be we will find out soon. Hopefully as soon as possible - if that's how it works out.”
DS: With Cardinals history of developing homegrown players, how enticing is that to know as you go through the process of negotiations?
JM: “That's a pretty big deal. I mean, I've grown up a Cardinals fan and that made the whole thing that much more special.”
DS: Lastly, what has been most memorable for you in your career thus far?
JM: “My time with both my summer and my school teams. I've been fortunate enough to play with some pretty awesome players, teams, and play for some pretty awesome coaches.”
Read The Cardinal Nation’s assessment of Murders and the other 41 selections the Cardinals made in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft here.
Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.
© 2016 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.