Railriders' catcher, J.R. Murphy was a part of history last year as he stood on the same mound as Yankees' closer Mariano Rivera as the legend stepped off the mound for the final time at Yankee Stadium.
"Last year was special, I appreciate the opportunity that the Yankees gave me and it is a memory that I will always have," Murphy said of his time in New York last season.
Now after spending the spring in big league camp, Murphy is looking to build on last years' success and prove that he is once again ready for New York in 2014.
"Big league camp is always fun, especially with the Yankees," he said. "The amount of information to learn is endless particularly as far as the catching side is concerned. There are so many guys to learn from and it's always a great experience."
Railriders' hitting coach Butch Wynegar said he was very encouraged by what he saw from Murphy in Spring Training and wants to see the catcher pick up right where he left off last season.
"Just like I saw out of him last year while he was here (Scranton), he's a kid that does a good job behind the plate and is improving behind the plate. He's got a chance to be a real good hitter and I think that the time that he spent in the big leagues last year really helped him, just as far as being around those guys up there."
As the 2014 season rolls around, Murphy finds himself as the primary catcher in Scranton while he may see some time at DH as well with Austin Romine also on the roster. With Murphy set at Triple-A for the time being, he acknowledges his need for improvement with the hope of getting back to where he was last year.
"I think the main goal is to get back to the major leagues. After having a taste of it, that is obviously where you want to be at this point.
"To do that, I would like to make improvements on my catching, hitting, and everything. I want to try and be more of a leader and take control of the pitching staff.
"I need to keep developing my leadership. I want to keep working with the pitchers and adapting to the different personalities of the staff."
Wynegar echoed Murphy's thoughts on his improvements for this season.
"He just needs to be consistent, defense is his number one job. He does a good job of that, he blocks well, he throws well but his biggest area to improve on is working with pitchers, being a leader back there and recognizing things throughout the game to help them.
"He is not a big vocal type guy, so he needs to get to the point where he can take control and be ready to help guys like Sabathia and Tanaka when he gets back to New York."
Defensively, Murphy is excited to work behind the plate for a talented core of pitchers in Scranton.
"We knew in Spring Training that we were going to have a great pitching staff, we have a good chance to be really good and I am looking forward to improving by working with those guys."
After starting the year 2 for his first 15 (.133), Murphy went 2-4 with an RBI on Thursday night in Scranton's home opener. Murphy said after a slow start to the year that he just needs to keep working hard every day and the hits will come.
"I feel great at the plate, nothing has changed and I have the same routine each game so that is what I am going to keep doing each day."
After hitting a combined, .265 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI's last year between Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Murphy will look to improve on those offensive numbers while continuing to gain experience behind the plate with a talented group of pitchers.
"J.R. just needs to continue to stay confident at the plate and take the bull by the horns while he is handling the pitchers," Wynegar said, "which will allow him to continue to succeed and be a big part of the Yankees organization."
Murphy Looking To Build On 2013
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