After back-to-back hitters lead of the Jays Journal Top 30 prospects series, we get our first pitcher here at number 28, a lefty whose career has gotten off to a slower start than most anticipated when Toronto selected him a few drafts ago.
Name: Griffin Murphy
Position: Left Handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 1/16/1991 (22)
Acquired: Selected in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft ($800,000 USD)
High School: Redlands East Valley (Highland, California)
College: Had commitment to San Diego
Height/Weight: 6’3”/200 lbs
Awards and Accomplishments:
- Ranked 27th on 2012 Top 30 prospects list
- 2010 Rawlings 1st Team All-American
- 2010 California All Region 1st Team
2012 Statistics and Analysis
1-2, 39.1 IP, 26 H, 8 ER, 1 HR, 13 BB, 44 K
1.83 ERA (2.51 FIP), 0.99 WHIP, 10.07 K/9, 2.97 BB/9, 1.03 GO/AO
The story of Murphy’s season was an unbelievable stretch of dominance between July 11th and August 19th. After allowing two earned runs and five hits over just 1.1 innings of work on July 5th, Murphy would allow a total of zero earned runs over his next ten appearances, totaling 25 innings. He allowed nine hits and walked just eight, while striking out 30 batters. The scoreless streak ended in his final game with Bluefield, as he allowed three runs in 2.2 innings. The Blue Jays handed him a much deserved and long overdue promotion to Vancouver, where he got his feet wet over three appearances.
There are some mechanical flaws in Murphy’s delivery. His shoulder can get ahead of his arm on the release, leading to added stress on the elbow. He has a strong lower half and uses it well as he drives to the plate, but his front (right) knee will lock as he strides which can lead to balance and control issues. He comes from a high 3/4, nearly overhand delivery, and while the arm speed is good, there is a bit of effort there as a result of the arm drag.
Pitch Arsenal Breakdown
Murphy features a very traditional three pitch repertoire, working a curveball and changeup off of a fastball that has received above average grades. The velocity is fringe-plus, as while he has shown the ability to touch 93 and 94 miles per hour, he more consistently sits in the 89-92 range. It’s possible that if he were converted to relief full time and used in one inning bursts, the velocity would begin to sit in the low to mid nineties, but until the Blue Jays utilize him in such a way, we can’t be sure. Murphy commands the fastball very well, consistently pounding down in the zone. It helps make up for the merely average movement on the pitch, as despite a high 3/4 arm slot, Murphy doesn’t generate very much sink on the pitch.
The two offspeed pitches are in the fringe-average to average range, but could eventually grade as solid-average (slightly above average) as he continues to develop and find more consistency, particularly on the command side of things. There isn’t a whole lot of horizontal movement with Murphy’s pitches, as he uses his delivery to try and get on top of the ball and create as much of a downward plane as possible. This meshes with his 12-to-6 curveball, which shows nice shape and has a lot of depth. Troubles with his release point can lead to shoddy command and more loop than bite, making the pitch easy to pick up and lay off, but these problems are correctable. Murphy’s changeup really sinks at the plate and he hides it well thanks to his quick arm action, so he should be able to handle himself against right handed batters moving forward.
The perfect world projection for Griffin Murphy would be a 7th inning reliever who can handle both left handed and right handed batters.
2013 Outlook, Risk, and ETA
At 22 years old on Opening Day, Murphy really needs to make some moves over the next two seasons. He should open the season in Single-A Lansing, and as I discussed on the Left Handed Pitcher primer, I expect he’ll be used in tandem with some of the younger arms in order to protect them from being overworked at the beginning of the year. An assignment and workload such as this could boost his inning total from the 39.1 he had in 2012 up to roughly 80 innings in 2013 between Lansing and High-A Dunedin. The building of arm strength and frequent repetitions would do wonders for the development of his curveball and changeup, and could allow him to cruise from Double-A all the way to the majors in 2014 if moved to a late inning relief role. The risk is medium-high with Murphy, as while he has produced impressive numbers and features three potentially average or better pitches, he still hasn’t seen full season ball.