The Tigers ninth round pick in 2009 out of Winthrop, Murrian had a strong debut in the New York-Penn League with Oneonta. Playing as the team's primary catcher, Murrian caught 38 games and was the designated hitter in another 16. He finished his first pro summer with a .296/.356/.468 line in a very tough offensive environment.
The Tigers were set to be aggressive with Murrian, jumping him all the way to High-A Lakeland before a wrist injury sidelined him for the first part of the campaign. Once healthy, he stepped into the Lakeland lineup and hit solidly in another difficult offensive venue. His power seemed to be missing as he worked to regain his strength, but he did finish with a .264 average and 25 walks in just 62 games.
Late in the year the Tigers moved Murrian up to Double-A Erie to fill a void on the ‘Wolves roster. He didn't hit much in his 17 games on the roster, notching only a .217 with 15 strikeouts.
Though not a traditional tool, Murrian's best attribute is his leadership. He is a natural leader that has an ability to handle his pitching staff with ease and also lead his teammates both vocally and by example. One Florida State League coach raved about his makeup and leadership, and indicated John was "the type of guy every manager wants leading his team."
Murrian has a simple swing and gets the bat to the zone quickly. There is little elevation in the second half of his swing and despite his natural strength he doesn't project for much more than gap power with line drives throughout the entire field. He has solid plate coverage and can make pretty easy contact on all types of pitches.
Defensively, Murrian is a strong thrower with good footwork. He gets out of his crouch quickly and has a good release. His throws are generally accurate, but he can cut his follow through short at times and his throws sail as a result. He has improved his blocking ability but still has work to do to maintain his positive strides.
Some scouts that really like Murrian's tools and leadership believe he could be a second division starter at the big league level, or a very solid backup. Other scouts that aren't as sold on the profile of his tools see a guy that could be a pretty typical MLB backup catcher.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% A+
The broken bone in his wrist really sapped the strength in his swing in 2010, and there was some thought that he tried to compensate for the lack of power in other ways, and it in turn negatively impacted his entire approach. The injury isn't expected to pose problems going forward and he should be completely healthy in 2011.
The Tigers have to figure out a way to space out their catching prospects in 2011, and Murrian will be one of the first placed on a roster; likely returning to Double-A Erie for a more extensive trial. While he doesn't profile as a major contributor, Murrian has a fair chance at a big league career.
With only 133 minor league games under his belt, Murrian needs at least another full season of at-bats before he is even remotely ready for the big leagues. An invitation to big league camp should be a good experience for Murrian, and with a strong showing in Double-A he could be on the radar for a call-up in 2012 if needed.
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