Marking the return of the top 50 prospects list is one of the best high school lefties from the 2010 draft, No. 29 Griffin Murphy:
No. 29: Griffin Robert Murphy
Born: January 16, 1991 in Highland, California
Bats: Right Throws: Left
High School: Redlands East Valley (Redlands, CA)
Acquired: Drafted by the Blue Jays in the 2nd round (61st overall) of the 2010 Amateur Draft
Pre-2011 Rank: 19
- Was scouted by every AL East team except the Orioles
- Went 11-1 with a 1.35 ERA in 73 innings (15 games) as a high school senior, including 104 strikeouts and 20 walks for an uncanny 5:1 ratio
- Baseball America 2010 High School All-America 3rd Team selection
- In preparation for the rigors of a minor league baseball schedule, he was forced by his father to travel to baseball showcases and tournaments by himself and plan everything in advance
GCL Blue Jays team ranking (min. 25 IP):
- 1st in starts (11), hits allowed (48), runs (27) and home runs (6)
- 2nd in innings pitched (41.0)
- T-2nd in earned runs (20)
- 3rd in strikeouts (39)
- T-3rd in losses (2)
- T-4th in walks (16) and wild pitches (5)
- T-5th in wins (2) and HBP (3)
MLB.com draft video from 2010 can be found here
Extra Information and previous experience:
The Blue Jays selected the top-ranked high school lefty in the 2011 draft, but they also did so the year before when they took Southern California product Griffin Murphy, who significantly boosted his stock by upping his average fastball velocity by over three miles per hour and into the low 90s weeks before the draft.
Murphy has above-average command of his fastball, which is something that he was praised for prior to the draft given its rarity among high school pitchers. Against left and right-handed batters alike, Murphy can throw his primary offering inside, outside, high or low, consistently hitting spots with it when he needs to. He rounds out his standard starting pitcher’s repertoire with an improved mid-70s curveball and low-80s changeup that is still a work in progress.
Though he has room to improve both of his off-speed pitches, Murphy has shown that he’s been able to throw either of them for strikes on occasion, which bodes well against hitters in the lower levels of the minors, who typically sit on fastballs. Despite this, Murphy had some hiccups in his first taste of pro ball.
After working through the months of extended spring training in 2011, Murphy made his pro debut with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in June. He overpowered opposing hitters in his first two starts, allowing three earned runs on six hits in nine innings with 14 strikeouts to only two walks, but ran into some trouble in five July starts when he struggled with his command. He issued seven walks, hit three batters and gave up five home runs in roughly 17 innings that month, before calming down in his final four starts of the year and allowing just one run in August.
Murphy finished the year overall with a 4.39 ERA/4.59 FIP in 11 starts, along with averaging over three walks and almost nine strikeouts per nine innings. He did, however, give up over 10 hits per nine as well — an underwhelming stat for an old-for-his-level pitcher facing inexperienced and much younger competition. Given the extreme uselessness of rookie ball numbers, though, it’s important to look at the reasons why Murphy didn’t have as dominant of a rookie-ball campaign as he would have liked.
As you can see in the MLB.com draft video via the link above, Murphy has a lot going on in his quirky delivery and, like the majority of young pitchers, repeating it has been an issue for him. Leaving balls up in the zone more often than not led to him getting hit hard in the middle of the season, and being able to throw downhill more consistently will be the biggest thing he’ll work on in 2012.
Having turned 21 in January without any experience above rookie ball, though, Murphy’s future is becoming cloudy. Failing to make a full season club this year and once again staying back in extended spring training means that he’ll have to impress at his first destination, likely short season-A Vancouver, to have any hopes of getting back on the radar, with a late-season promotion to Lansing almost a necessity at this point.
Expected 2012 team: Vancouver Canadians (Short-season A)
Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: No. 4 starter
People have seemed to give up on Murphy because of this, but after seeing him for the first time in spring training in March, I’m intrigued to watch how he fares this season. The pressure will be certainly on him, but as a hard worker with good pitchability, Murphy could make great strides this season, especially if his mechanical adjustments give his curveball–his out pitch–more bite.