Murphy having fun in first season

SURPRISE, AZ - Clark Murphy had perhaps the most impressive debut of any position player drafted by the Rangers in 2008. The 18-year-old batted .358 with 11 extra-base hits and 12 walks in 95 at-bats with the AZL Rangers. Lone Star Dugout features the fifth round pick.

The Texas Rangers inked 35 of their 50 picks in this past June's MLB Draft. Just one of those selections – fifth rounder Clark Murphy – was a high school position player.

Murphy, who had signed a letter of intent with UCLA, was widely regarded as a raw hitter with loads of raw power. The California native put himself on the radar by displaying his impressive power at the 2007 Aflac All-American Home Run Derby.

Clearly intrigued by his potential, the Rangers signed Murphy for a bonus of $200,000. The club officially inked the slugger on July 22nd, 46 days after they initially drafted him.

Despite the long waiting period, Murphy intended to sign from the day he was drafted.

"There was just politics going on. That's the only reason why it took so long," explained Murphy. "This is what I want to do. It wasn't hard at all for me to finally sign the contract. It was a relief actually to finally do it."

Murphy was sent to the Rangers' minor league complex in Surprise, Ariz., shortly after signing his contract. The 18-year-old, who played his debut campaign with the rookie-level AZL Rangers, has enjoyed his first experience of pro ball.

"I'm loving it," he said. "It is great to be out here. This organization is one of the best and so far it's not a lie to me. It's hot out here, but that is the only thing you can really say is bad about it. I'm getting to play every day and it is fun. It's a blessing to be out here, really."

Although scouting reports generally classified Murphy as a raw talent out of high school, he showed quite a bit of polish in his debut season, batting .358 in 95 at-bats. Murphy belted seven doubles, three triples, and one home run while drawing 12 walks.

"Hitting is hitting," said Murphy. "I started out hot, got cold, and got hot. I've done alright, I think."

Murphy says he has yet to make any major adjustments since joining the Rangers' organization.

"Just see ball, hit ball, and keeping the head still," replied Murphy when asked what he is working on at the plate. "I'm not trying to do too much and just letting it happen – backing the ball up."

Many young players – especially out of high school – struggle to adjust to the grind of playing competitively every day. However, that is not an issue with Murphy, who appears to enjoy the challenge.

"It's not that hard because it is what I want to do," he said. "Really the biggest difference is that you're with guys that want to do it also, so that makes it easier – just being around baseball players and guys who go after it every day. You're not the only one who gives 110 percent every time you go out."

But Murphy also sees how others can have trouble with the demanding schedule.

"It's a little bit of a grind," Murphy said. "I haven't been here long enough to complain, but I can see where some of these guys are coming from that want to go home right now. But I'm still having fun just because I haven't been out here that long."

Due to a nagging quad injury, Murphy spent his senior season of high school at first base. Even though he was drafted as an outfielder and is now healthy, Murphy has continued to play first base since joining the Rangers organization.

"I got kicked out of the brotherhood," Murphy joked when asked about not playing in the outfield. "That's what we call it out here I guess. But I'm going to first base right now for at-bats because we have seven outfielders and just one other first baseman.

"I've played first base pretty much my whole life, so I'm comfortable with it. They are still telling me they're going to move me to the outfield. It's just a matter of getting at-bats right now."

Murphy expects to work in the outfield when he attends fall instructional league in late-September. The left-hander looks forward to using instructs as a valuable learning experience.

"I want to be around guys who know baseball and learn from them," he said. "Being able to take everything in that they give me and just being around guys who have been to the next level and know what it is like. And the coaching staff – to learn from them because they know so much more than I do. I want to take in as much as I can. That will be the biggest goal for me."


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