Q&A with Rangers 3rd Round Pick Tim Murphy

The Texas Rangers drafted UCLA left-hander Tim Murphy in the third round of the 2008 MLB Draft on Thursday afternoon. Lone Star Dugout was able to catch up with the hurler for a draft day Q&A session.

Tim Murphy was part of a trio of left-handed pitchers selected by the Rangers during the first six rounds of the 2008 MLB Draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-2 southpaw was the ace of UCLA's staff this season, as he posted a 3.34 ERA in 18 appearances [15 starts]. He totaled 102.1 innings and surrendered 83 hits, walking 46 and striking out 111.

Although Murphy was the best pitcher on a talented Bruins squad, he isn't all that experienced. A two-way talent out of high school, Murphy was more of an outfielder at California's Rancho Buena Vista High. He didn't take the hill full-time until his sophomore year of college.

After showing outstanding results to match his above-average stuff this season, the Rangers decided to use their third round pick on the hurler. Lone Star Dugout was able to catch up with Murphy a few hours after he was drafted.

Jason Cole: Can you describe the feeling of being drafted by the Rangers today?

Tim Murphy: It's obviously an unbelievable feeling any time you get drafted and have the opportunity to prove yourself not only in the minor leagues, but to have a chance to accomplish a lifelong dream in the Major Leagues. It is always something special. I was definitely excited, enthusiastic, and ready to get going here.

As far as the Rangers, I knew them out of high school, talked with them a little bit out of high school. Coming into this year's draft, I talked to them a little bit again this year. Once they called my name – when I saw it on the internet – like I said, I was pretty happy and excited. I'm ready to get going.

Cole: As a third round pick, is that about where you were expecting to go coming into the draft?

Murphy: Obviously we didn't know exactly. The draft is pretty unpredictable and anything can happen. But I thought I had a pretty good chance to go in the top two rounds. Probably more realistically, it looked towards the early second, early third round. Right around there – in the second or third round. Overall, in the grand scheme of things, it's probably right where we had figured.

Cole: You mentioned that you had talked to the Rangers a little bit before the draft. Were they one of the clubs that was talking to you most? Did you think there was a good chance they were going to take you?

Murphy: Actually, I would have said more in high school than they were in college. They were the team that I had probably talked to most recently going into the draft – a few days before down at the Fullerton regional. I talked to the local guy – he gave me a phone call and I talked to him a little bit. Other than that, it was kind of in-and-out sporadically. I know they were at my games and all that kind of stuff.

Cole: Have you been in contact with anyone from the Rangers since they picked you earlier today?

Murphy: Yeah, I've been in contact with the area guy – the area scout that drafted me. Obviously he's still in Texas for the draft. I think he's coming back Saturday and then we'll meet on Sunday or Monday here to figure out some things and do the logistical part of everything.

Cole: Tell me a little bit about yourself on the mound. Give me a little scouting report on your game. What pitches do you throw and what speeds are you generally working at?

Murphy: I'm definitely a highly competitive guy. I throw a fastball. It has got a wide range. It can go anywhere from 88-92 mph. I've got a curveball that is kind of an 11-to-5 curveball. It is anywhere from 72-74-76 – anywhere in there. Then I've got a changeup. It's just a circle changeup that is right around 78 miles an hour. So I'm a three-pitch guy that is competitive. I like to go after the hitters.

Cole: What would you say is your best attribute on the mound? What makes you a successful pitcher?

Murphy: Definitely my competitiveness. I love competing, I love winning. It's me versus the hitter. I just try and go pitch-to-pitch and win every pitch. Two out of three strikes, that type of thing. Just all the basics of pitching. Definitely my best attribute is competitiveness. Like I said, it's me versus the hitter and I want to get them out. I don't shy away.

Murphy says he is competitive on the hill.
Cole: What would you consider to be your best pitch?

Murphy: I definitely pitch off my fastball. I move it in and out. Command of it is pretty decent. Fastball, then I'd probably say my curveball would be my second best. That is kind of like my out pitch I guess you could say. The changeup is just to keep guys off-balance and get outs here and there when I need them. I throw it in certain situations when guys are looking for fastballs. I'd go fastball, curveball, changeup in that order.

Cole: You were a pretty highly touted guy out of high school. I know that a lot of great high school pitchers don't really need or throw changeups. Is the changeup a pitch you threw in high school or was it something that you learned at UCLA?

Murphy: It is kind of something I've actually added this year. I threw it a little bit in high school, but I went in to UCLA as more of an outfielder. I didn't pitch at all my freshman year and then I got on the mound about a quarter of the way through last year. I got into the starting rotation because we had a guy go out with mononucleosis. So I kind of took over the Saturday role and threw from there. It was mostly a lot of fastballs and curveballs last year. This year, I really worked on the changeup during the offseason and in the fall. I threw it a lot this fall and developed it. I'm more consistent with it and more comfortable. We threw it a lot more this year. It has definitely come a long way since last year. I guess you could say it was pretty close to non-existent last year.

Cole: You mentioned that you didn't pitch your freshman year of college. Did you do any throwing at all or did you just kind of leave it behind?

Murphy: I came in as a two-way guy, but I started in centerfield my freshman year. Then I broke my arm in like the eighth game of the year. I was out for two months and when I came back, I just played all in the outfield. I didn't get on the mound at all my freshman year.

Cole: How difficult was it for you to re-adjust to pitching your sophomore year after taking an entire year off?

Murphy: I had never been too much of a pitcher. It's still kind of new to me, I guess you could say. I really only threw probably a year, year and a half in high school. I got drafted out of high school as an outfielder. I guess it was difficult. I was more of a thrower last year than a pitcher. I was just more athletic ability and decently strong arm. I had a little bit of an idea what I was doing last year, but this year I've definitely developed into more of a pitcher with pitchability. I know how to get guys out and I know what to throw guys in certain situations – not relying so much on others like my catcher and coach.

Cole: So people can get an idea of what you are like on the mound, is there a big league pitcher that you would compare yourself to or that you model your game after?

Murphy: I don't know if you could compare anyone. I guess you could say like a Randy Wolf if you want an identical comparison. We're both left-handed, kind of the same build. He went to Pepperdine – a college guy. But it's tough to say.

If you asked me who my two favorite pitchers are and who I like on the mound, I would say Cole Hamels and Jake Peavy. I like Jake Peavy's attitude and his competitiveness is off the charts as well. If you wanted to go that way, I guess you could say those two. But probably stature-wise and ability-wise, the best I could think of off the top of my head is Randy Wolf.

Cole: What are your thoughts on your season with UCLA?

Murphy: Team-wise, it was a little disappointing. We obviously had high hopes – we were ranked number one in the preseason. We came in and kind of struggled a little bit. I don't know if guys put too much pressure on themselves or what, but we kind of struggled and then played average-caliber ball during most of the year. In the last few weeks we kind of cranked it up a few notches and started playing to our capabilities. We won some key games, got ourselves into the postseason, and then started off the Fullerton regional really well. Then we had a tough loss on Sunday and a tough loss on Monday and got knocked out by a good Fullerton team. You have to give them credit. Overall, we made it to a regional for the third year in a row, which is something UCLA has never done. That was obviously an accomplishment. We obviously wanted to go to Omaha, so it was a tough way to see the season end. But in the grand scheme of things, I guess you could say it was a pretty decent season.

Cole: What would you say has been the best moment of your baseball career thus far?

Murphy: I guess you could say today. It's kind of something you always dream of as a kid. It is a lifelong dream of making it to the Major Leagues and today is – I don't want to say it's the first step because you've been doing it since high school and preparing yourself in college – but you really get the opportunity now to prove yourself. Right now it's just you versus the other guys in minor league baseball. Just playing at UCLA I guess and then today. The accumulation of those three years into today would probably be the highlight.

Cole: Can you talk about your chances of signing with the Rangers versus going back to UCLA for your senior year?

Murphy: It is highly likely that I'll sign with the Rangers. Everything looks fine. I'm probably not going to come back to college. I'd say there is a 99 percent chance I sign with the Rangers – I wouldn't see why not. I'm definitely ready to sign and take that next step in my baseball career.

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