Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Patrick Murphy is positioned to re-establish his prospect value after overcoming multiple setbacks
Patrick Murphy has travelled a long, difficult road since being selected out of high school by the Blue Jays back in 2013.
The right-hander spent the majority of 2013, 2014, and 2015 at the Blue Jays’ facilities in Dunedin rehabbing, rehabbing, and rehabbing again. Now that Murphy is coming off his first full season on the mound, some optimism has re-emerged surrounding the talented 21-year-old.
When the Blue Jays selected Murphy, he was already coming off a Tommy John surgery in his senior year, something that’s become more common in recent drafts.
Name: Patrick Murphy
Position: SP Age: 21
Height: 6’4” Age: 220 lbs.
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Acquired: 2013 MLB Draft (Round 3)
The surgeries didn’t stop there, though. Murphy did not get the full feeling back in his pitching hand (numbness) when he returned from Tommy John, so doctors removed a nerve from his elbow and a rib.
“We couldn’t figure out what it was, so I didn’t pitch that year,” Murphy told Sportsnet’s Gare Joyce last March. “Then in the middle of the summer we figured out that one of my ribs was pinching a nerve, so I had a rib removed.”
Upon finally hitting the mound this season, Murphy struggled with his control pitching for the single-A Lansing Lugnuts but looked much more comfortable after making the move to Vancouver in mid-June.
Control issues are to be expected for a young pitcher who hasn’t thrown consistent innings against live batters in almost three years. That considered, 3.7 walks per nine innings (cumulative 2016) is easy to stomach for Murphy and that number can be expected to improve in 2017.
A single Tommy John recovery of 12-16 months is one thing, but the length of time Murphy missed can have an impact on a pitcher’s muscles and strength at a more basic level. A full off-season of workouts will benefit Murphy as much as any player in the system, and his frame is perfectly suited for the job.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Murphy checks off every box physically. If he’s able to string two more healthy seasons together, which still remains a real variable, he physically profiles as a starter that should be able to chew up innings consistently.
According to MLB.com, Murphy’s fastball reached up and touched 97 MPH with Vancouver this season, but it’s likeliest that he tops out just below that (94-95 MPH). The report also highlights sinking motion on his fastball and a curveball with enticing potential. Murphy’s changeup, being a feel pitch, might take some time to develop.
Entering 2017, a return to Lansing makes sense for Murphy. With Toronto’s top-tier pitching prospects now moving up the ladder towards double-A and triple-A, the path is fairly clear for Murphy and the other arms in the lower minors. Murphy will be 22 in June, and with a strong season, it’s conceivable that he gets a look at high-A Dunedin.
Murphy’s prospect stock leans heavily on this season, but he does not necessarily need to pitch 130.0 innings with a low ERA. As long as Murphy can flash an improved strikeout tool and keep his walks under control, his stock will maintain this current value and, despite his delayed takeoff, Murphy could quietly emerge as a legitimate piece this