Q&A: Mets 13th round pick Daniel Murphy

A left-handed hitting third baseman from Jacksonville (Fla.) University, Daniel Murphy was selected in the 13th round (394th overall) by the New York Mets in Tuesday's draft. The 2006 A-Sun Player of the Year, Murphy batted .398 with 55 RBI for the Dolphins and is eager to start his professional career.

Murphy, who led the Jacksonville squad with 88 hits, 34 walks, seven sacrifice flies, 27 multi-hit games and a .406 average during A-Sun play, joined Inside Pitch's Bryan Hoch for a Draft Day Q&A:

Inside Pitch: What were your general thoughts on being selected by the Mets on Tuesday?

Daniel Murphy: I was excited. I was really, really excited. Mr. (Tony) Bernazard's son, Anthony, plays at Jacksonville University (Bernazard is the special assistant to Mets GM Omar Minaya) and I got to meet with his father this season. He's a great guy. I was really excited to be taken by the Mets.

Inside Pitch: So it sounds like you had an idea going into the draft that the Mets might be calling your name.

Murphy: I did. They were the team that came after me from the beginning, and they were the ones that talked to me through the whole thing. They were the ones that I thought had the most interest, and the team that I wanted to go to the most.

Inside Pitch: What were your conversations with Tony Bernazard like?

Murphy: He came and watched us play. He came to watch his son Anthony play, and I spoke with him briefly there. Other than that, I was talking with the scouts.

Inside Pitch: You had a good season this year, and you actually wound up playing hurt to end out the schedule. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Murphy: I had a strain in my hamstring and hyperextended my knee toward the end of the season sliding into second base (against Mercer University in May). I played the last couple of days in the Regionals running probably about 65, 70 percent. I still have a couple of weeks of rehab left, so they (the Mets) are going to send me down to Port St. Lucie and get that all straightened out. Hopefully, I'll be able to get into the system and start playing some ball.

Inside Pitch: It sounds like you're leaning toward signing and going pro rather quickly. What factored into that decision?

Murphy: A couple of things. The Mets took a chance on me while I was hurt, when a couple of other teams fell off the table. They said I can take my time with the rehab so I come back healthy, and when I went down, nobody really even talked to me that much. That stayed with me, and that took a lot of faith. I think the round is right, and I'm looking forward to playing pro ball.

Inside Pitch: What was the most difficult part about playing hurt at the end of the season?

Murphy: Mentally. I wasn't really supposed to slide, and sometimes when I'd start running, my hamstring would start tightening up so I'd have to back off.

I hit a ball in my first at-bat in the Regionals in the five-six hole (between third base and shortstop), and as soon as I hit it, I thought it was a hit. My mind said, 'That's a base hit, I've got to run it out.' The second step I took, I felt my hamstring tighten up, so I had to back off of it. Your mind works at 100 percent like I can still run, but my body was telling me to slow down. It's strange playing at half-speed when your mind works at full speed.

Inside Pitch: It sounds like you're going to recover fine, but do you think the mental part of that experience is something that could help you down the road?

Murphy: I think it will help me. I'm excited because I've been sitting out for three weeks, so I just want to get back and get my rehab done. I think it's just going to give me a breath of fresh air when I can start playing again, because it'll have been about a month or a month and a half off since I last played full speed.

Inside Pitch: What do you think your best attributes are as a player? What do you think interested the Mets about you?

Murphy: I'll be honest with you. I play third base all right, but I play defense so I can hit. I love to hit and I ended up swinging the bat pretty well this year. I was fortunate to be in a really good lineup at J.U., and I ended up being the one to get some real good pitches to hit.

Inside Pitch: When did you start playing third base?

Murphy: I was recruited at J.U. as a third baseman, but I played outfield my freshman year. I played a little bit of outfield last year and then this year I played third base every game this year until I got hurt.

Inside Pitch: Traditionally, third base is a power-hitting position. Do you feel like you'll fit into that mold?

Murphy: I think eventually, with the right coaching, I can. I only hit six home runs this year and I'm not your prototypical power hitter. I'm more of the gap guy, your average guy. Hopefully with the right coaching and a couple of tweaks here and there, I might be able to hit for more power.

Inside Pitch: How have you improved as a hitter since you went to J.U.?

Murphy: Our coach there, Chris Hayes, was a great help to me. He really helped me with smoothing out my swing a little bit and with my approach – just getting the right pitch to hit in the right situation, taking 'A' swings. Once I got to J.U., I really got a lot better as a hitter. I didn't think coming out of high school I'd even have to worry about the draft. Thanks to the coaching staff at J.U., I was fortunate enough to get drafted this year.

Inside Pitch: When did you first begin to think that the draft might be a possibility for you?

Murphy: This summer. I had a real good summer in the Valley League and hit about .350 and ended up getting MVP honors in the league. I was fortunate to hit in the middle of a really good lineup there too and saw good pitches to hit. I played well up there and got some interest from some clubs, and then played pretty well at J.U.

Inside Pitch: You mentioned that some of the other clubs fell off the table after you were injured. Who else was following you closely?

Murphy: The Blue Jays and the Padres. The Cardinals were there for a little while and they lost touch after I got hurt.

Inside Pitch: What are your thoughts on New York? Have you ever been there, and what do you think about possibly playing there one day?

Murphy: I've been there one time. We passed through and I went and saw some sights. We went to Yankee Stadium on the subway, and saw Times Square. I was only there for about seven or eight hours with a friend of mine. I didn't see as much as I wanted to. I'm excited. I think it'd be a great place to play. They have the greatest fans if you play well, and if you don't, they let you know about it. That's the way it should be.


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