Scouting Rangers Prospect #33: David Murphy

Outfielder David Murphy flashed his potential late last summer, as he batted .340 for the Rangers after being acquired in the Eric Gagne trade. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the native Texan with an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: David Murphy
Position: Outfield
DOB: October 18, 1981
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 215
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

David Murphy is accustomed to playing his home games in the state of Texas. A native of Houston, Murphy attended Klein High School before spending three years at Baylor University.

Murphy had an outstanding career at Baylor, but his junior season was especially impressive. The outfielder batted .413 with 18 doubles and 11 home runs, leading to an OPS (on base plus slugging) of 1.101.

The All-American season enticed the Red Sox to draft the lefty in the first round – 17th overall – of the 2003 MLB Draft. Though he was a right fielder throughout his collegiate career, the Red Sox selected Murphy hoping he could make the move to centerfield.

Known for his sweet left-handed swing, advanced plate discipline, and solid defense, the only question was whether or not Murphy's above-average gap power would one day develop into home runs.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, that power showed little sign of developing over his first few professional seasons. Although Murphy was climbing up the minor league ranks – even playing 20 games with Boston in 2006 – he never topped more than 14 home runs in a season.

It also seemed unlikely – especially with the lack of dominant minor league numbers – that Murphy would ever get much of a chance to compete for a starting job in Boston. The club already had a strong stable of outfielders in addition to top prospects such as Jacoby Ellsbury.

Taking all of this into account, it appeared the best thing for Murphy would be a trade – a change of scenery. That's exactly what happened just prior to the 2007 trade deadline.

Murphy was sent to the Rangers along with Kason Gabbard and Engel Beltre in exchange for reliever Eric Gagne. The 26-year-old reported to Triple-A Oklahoma, but he wasn't there for long. Murphy received the call to the big leagues after just seven at-bats with the RedHawks.

Upon his arrival to the majors, nobody was sure what kind of role – or how often – Murphy would play with the Rangers. But that was solved in a hurry, as the Baylor product forced his way into the everyday lineup by batting .407 (24/59) in his first month with the team. While Murphy eventually cooled off to an extent, he was able to finish the season with a .340 average, 12 doubles, one triple, and two home runs.

Not only did Murphy force his way into the Rangers' late-season lineup in 2007, his outstanding performance may have already earned him a spot on the club's roster for 2008. The native Texan has the potential to be an everyday big league outfielder, but his professional career has been plagued with inconsistency. If Murphy is able to pick up where he left off last summer, he could become a mainstay in the Rangers' outfield.

Batting and Power: It was Murphy's offense that excited Rangers fans late last season, as he batted .340 over 43 games. The former first-round pick has always had plenty of potential offensively, but he has yet to show he can consistently tap into it. Murphy does possess a good-looking swing with an advanced approach, but he is a career .273 minor league hitter with 39 home runs over six seasons. He has yet to show the power the Red Sox hoped he would develop when they drafted him in 2003, but the outfielder did have 15 extra-base hits in 103 at-bats with the Rangers last summer. Predominately a corner outfielder, Murphy will likely have to hit for more consistent power to crack the starting lineup.

Base Running and Speed: Murphy is not one of the faster players in the organization, but his speed does rate as slightly above-average. Though he does have good speed, Murphy has never stolen more than 13 bases in a minor league season. Murphy's speed helps give him solid range at all three outfield positions.

Defense: The outfielder has the ability to play all three outfield positions, but he probably fits in best in left or right field. While Murphy has decent range and a strong arm, he lacks the ideal speed for a centerfielder. Murphy should see the majority of his time in left field this coming season, though he figures to fill in at all three throughout the course of the year.

Projection: Murphy has the potential to become a solid everyday player, but the question is whether or not he can live up to it. Probably a corner outfielder -- especially with the club's acquisition of Josh Hamilton -- Murphy will have to show more consistent power to stay in the starting lineup. If he is unable to, Murphy projects as a reliable fourth outfielder with an above-average bat and the ability to adequately fill in at all three outfield positions.

2008 Outlook: Though he is likely to start the season on the Rangers' 25-man roster, Murphy's role on the team is yet to be decided. Wish Josh Hamilton already cemented in centerfield, Murphy is currently competing with four other corner outfielders (Marlon Byrd, Frank Catalanotto, Nelson Cruz, and Kevin Mench) for two spots in the starting lineup. Milton Bradley also figures to be a factor in the outfield once his injured leg permits him to play in the field. But even if Murphy misses out on a starting job in spring training, his versatility and productivity late last season should keep him on the big league roster.

ETA: 2008.

2003 Lowell (SSA) .346 78 4 0 13 13 4 16 9 .453 .397
Sarasota (A+) .242 153 5 1 18 18 6 20 33 .329 .307
2004 GCL Red Sox (RK) .278 18 1 0 1 3 1 1 2 .316 .333
Sarasota (A+) .261 272 11 4 38 35 3 25 46 .323 .346
2005 Portland (AA) .275 484 25 14 75 71 13 46 83 .337 .430
2006 Portland (AA) .273 172 17 3 25 22 4 11 29 .315 .436
Pawtucket (AAA) .267 318 23 8 44 45 3 45 53 .355 .447
Boston (MLB) .227 22 1 1 2 4 0 4 4 .346 .409
2007 Pawtucket (AAA) .280 400 20 9 47 50 8 41 68 .347 .423
Oklahoma (AAA) .286 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .286 .286
Boston (MLB) .500 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 .500 1.500
Texas (MLB) .340 103 12 2 14 16 0 7 19 .382 .534

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