Toronto Blue Jays 2020 Top Prospects: #20 Patrick Murphy

DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 22: Patrick Murphy #62 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait during photo day at Dunedin Stadium on February 22, 2019 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 22: Patrick Murphy #62 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait during photo day at Dunedin Stadium on February 22, 2019 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Jays Journal continues our countdown of the top 30 Blue Jays prospects of 2020. The #20 spot goes to starting pitcher Patrick Murphy.

Name: Patrick Murphy
Position: SP                               Age: 24
Height: 6’4”                               Weight: 220 lbs
Throws: Right                           Bats: Right
Acquired: Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 3rd round of the 2013 Draft
2019 Organization Level: AA – New Hampshire Fisher Cats
ETA: 2020

Patrick Murphy has had less than a smooth start to his young career, as has been detailed by Ryan Di Francesco of The Hardball Times.

A product of the Alex Anthopolous era, Patrick Murphy was never considered a top 100 prospect going into the 2013 Amateur Draft. After undergoing Tommy John Surgery, Murphy missed his senior season in high school. Given the obvious risks involved in drafting a player in his situation, many organizations were understandably hesitant to invest a high draft pick on Murphy.

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But Blake Crosby, a member of the Blue Jays scouting department, saw something special in Murphy. Something so special in fact, that rather than risk losing him to the Phillies (who were also believed to be interested in the young right-hander) the Blue Jays selected Patrick in the 3rd round with their 83rd overall pick – well earlier than anyone had expected him to be taken.

But it’s been far from a smooth journey through the Jays minor league system for Murphy. Over the three years following the draft, Murphy would throw a total of 39 pitches over four innings, as he suffered from a persistent tingling in his fingers. Doctors initially believed the symptoms to be a result of thoracic outlet syndrome, in which they treated him by surgically removing one of his ribs. Unfortunately, his symptoms failed to improve which led to a second surgery, this time removing a nerve from his elbow.

After three difficult years of surgery and rehab, Murphy was finally able to put his health issues behind him and focus on what he loves – baseball. In 2016, he was assigned to the Low-A Lansing Lugnuts to begin his journey through the Jays minor league system. Over the past four seasons Murphy has enjoyed good health, throwing a total of 434 innings across four levels while accumulating a 3.26 ERA and 1.295 WHIP.

2018 marked a major turning point in his career, posting a 2.64 ERA and 1.200 WHIP across 146.2 innings for the Dunedin Blue Jays, while in the process earning Pitcher of the Year honors in the Florida State League.

2019 was a bit of a rollercoaster for Murphy, however. While his final numbers don’t look too spectacular – 4.71 ERA and 1.214 WHIP – it was really a tale of three pitchers.

Murphy struggled over his first four starts, posting a 6.12 ERA and 1.53 WHIP over 17.2 innings. But as Shi Davidi reported, Murphy’s struggles were believed to be due to the overuse of his fastball. Once he began to incorporate his changeup and curveball a bit more, his results improved dramatically, as we can see by his numbers over his next seven games – 2.76 ERA and 0.81 WHIP over 45.2 innings.

Then came the bad news.

Following a stellar start on June 2nd, 2019 in which he threw 7.0 innings of one run ball – giving up five hits and no walks – Murphy was informed that he would have to modify his delivery in order to remove a toe-tap that the league had deemed illegal.

While this is just the latest obstacle in his journey to the majors, it’s a struggle that he will have to overcome if he hopes to cement himself in the Blue Jays plans during their rebuild.

So far, the numbers don’t look great as he’s posted a 7.84 ERA and 1.84 WHIP over 20.2 innings during his seven starts following the news. But that’s expected given that his adjustments came mid-season. Hopefully a full offseason will allow Murphy to perfect his new delivery and find the kind of success that had him in the conversation for a spot in the Jays’ rotation prior to this latest speedbump.

According to MLB Pipeline’s Scouting Report, Murphy’s fastball sits around 92-95 mph and can touch 97 at times. His fastball earns an above average grade of 60 (on a scale from 20 to 80) due in part to the downhill plane and sinking action with which he throws it, making it difficult for hitters to square up.

Murphy’s curveball is also a plus pitch, earning a grade of 55 (slightly above average) according to MLB Pipeline. Clocking in at 75-79 mph, the pitch features tight spin and late bite.

Also featured in his arsenal is a changeup which is a work in progress and has shown improvements as of late. The changeup earned a grade of 45 (slightly below average).

Future Value
While Murphy has the potential to exceed expectations, especially considering the resilience and inner drive he’s shown to this point in his young career, MLB Pipeline currently has him projected as a future No. 4 or 5 starter. A lot will come down to his ability to develop his changeup into a third weapon, allowing him to successfully navigate a major league lineup multiple times around.

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That being said, given the flashes of dominance he’s shown at times over the past couple seasons, Murphy certainly has the potential to prove those projections wrong. I certainly wouldn’t bet against him given what he’s already overcome in his young career.