Rangers Prospect #19: A.J. Murray

A.J. Murray has battled his way through two labrum surgeries to earn a spot on the 40-man roster. Rangers Insider takes a look at the 24-year-old prospect.

Vital Statistics:
Name: A.J. Murray
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: March 17, 1982
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 225
Bats: Both
Throws: Left

Based on name alone, Arlington John "A.J." Murray is a perfect fit for the Rangers organization. But however perfect Murray's name might be, the 24-year-old's fight to the 40-man roster has been far from it.

The Rangers drafted the native of Utah in the 19th round of the 2000 amateur draft. Because he was a draft-and-follow signing, Murray's professional debut came the following year for the Rookie League Gulf Coast Rangers. The left-hander displayed impeccable control and dominated to the tune of a 1.86 earned run average.

The southpaw's sophomore campaign was just as flawless, as he cruised through both Single-A levels with nary a problem.

In fact, it wasn't until 2004 when Murray faced his first true hardships. The left-handed prospect was sidelined for the entire season with a shoulder injury, an ailment which pitchers rarely make a full recovery from.

Murray worked his way back in 2005, starting off with High-A Bakersfield of the California League. After 60 innings Murray was promoted back to Double-A Frisco, where he combined with Scott Feldman and Steve Karsay for just the third nine-inning perfect game in Texas League history. Murray – who had a 3.26 ERA in 58 Double-A innings – appeared to be in good health.

Just one year after making a seemingly full recovery, the lefty came down with his second labrum injury in three seasons, causing him to miss the entire 2006 season. However, Murray was relatively quick to return to the mound, as he pitched in this offseason's Arizona Fall League. The southpaw's performance impressed Ranger management enough to earn himself a spot on the team's 40-man roster, protecting him from the Rule 5 draft.

Repertoire: Fastball, Changeup, Curveball.

There is little doubt that Murray's bread and butter is his changeup. His above-average arm action and command of the pitch put it at the top of the list. Murray has an average fastball, which generally ranges from 86-89 MPH. His curveball is the more inconsistent of the bunch, but can be an average pitch when he has command of it.

Projection: Before Murray's injury woes, he would have projected as a solid back-of-the-rotation starter. After two labrum surgeries and two missed seasons, it is a safe bet that Murray likely projects as a reliever in the Major Leagues.

2007 Outlook: Murray should start the 2007 season with Triple-A Oklahoma, though it would not be a shock to see him get a quick refresher with Double-A Frisco. Either way, the lefty will most likely play the majority of his season with the RedHawks. The 24-year-old could make the switch to the bullpen this season, as the Rangers will not want to overwork him. Because he is already on the 40-man roster, Murray will probably make his Major League debut at some point in 2007.

ETA: 2007.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2001 GCL Rangers (RK) 3-3 53.1 48 10 45 1.86
2002 Savannah (A) 5-3 62.2 63 14 51 2.87
Charlotte (A+) 3-3 83.1 77 20 68 3.02
2003 Frisco (AA) 10-4 144.0 134 63 90 3.63
2005 Bakersfield (A+) 2-5 60.0 75 13 64 5.25
Frisco (AA) 4-4 58.0 62 15 49 3.26
Oklahoma (AAA) 1-0 10.0 11 2 11 6.30

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