Blue Jays: An interview with Jays’ Prospect 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) /

Last week I had the opportunity to chat with Jays’ pitching prospect Patrick Murphy.  Murphy reflected openly on his past injuries, overcoming adversity, the Jays’ youth movement, and his excitement for the future.

Mark:  What do you think of the new stadium renovations?

Patrick:  I played here in Dunedin a few years ago. It’s cool to see all the renovations.  Walking out of the weight room/clubhouse area to the outfield, the new big screen looks awesome, the 360 walkway area is cool, the new bullpen and everything looks nice.  All the stuff that they are doing on the minor-league side is awesome.  Once that stadium is done it is going to be pretty cool.  Obviously the bigger dugouts are nice, especially with the Florida heat and humidity.  But it’s just nice to have an updated complex. I’m from Arizona, so I grew up playing in all the spring training facilities out there.  I thought ours was a few steps behind, but now with all the renovations it is definitely up to date.

Mark:  2013. Your draft year. Toronto calls your name. Have you ever been to Toronto or even Canada before that?  Secondly, how did you feel about being drafted to a different country?

Patrick:  No never.  I had never been out of the country until my 1st season in Vancouver.  So no, I’d never been to Canada prior to that. It is very exciting when it’s when it’s a different country.  Originally I was a little shocked, not because of Toronto, because of my injury in high school.  I had contact with a few teams and Toronto was one of them.  So I figured Toronto would be one of the teams (picking me) if things worked out, but obviously it’s different, you know, representing the whole country.  The thought of it is pretty cool.  I’m excited to get there in the near future and be able to experience it.  I’ve been to Toronto the past two years for fan fest. Definitely a cool city.

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Mark:  Back to 2018. A huge turning point for you.   Up until that year you had some injuries dating back to high school.  You were named Pitcher of the Year that year.  Two questions on that note. What did that success do to your confidence, and what changes did you make prior to that season?

Patrick:  Going into 2018 it was really one of my first or second healthy off-seasons where I really felt healthy and I really had no restrictions when it came to lifting and wasn’t needing to do rehab every day.  Basically just had my own off-season where I was just training and getting ready for the year, which was pretty cool, because like you said, from my senior year of high school up to about like ‘15-‘16, I had a series of injuries and stuff which resulted in two or three different surgeries and a lot of DL time, a lot of rehab. So that was tough.  It was definitely frustrating.  I just wanted to pitch, to do my thing.

It took me a while to get going, but going into 2018, I was excited.   It was my first healthy off-season.  I came into camp ready to go and things kind of just went well.  Just trusting my routine, my preparation, all the stuff I did in the off-season.  The training staff,  everyone helped get me right after all those years.  So going into that year I just wanted to be healthy.  I just wanted to complete my first full season pitching, and I was able to do that.  Start to finish I was able to make every start.  I didn’t miss any.  Got a good workload in right around 150 innings.  To be able to get Pitcher of Year was pretty cool.

Mark:  In 2019, the first couple starts didn’t go that well. Then you really start to settle in and start lighting it up. Mid-summer, you get flagged for that delivery issue. What does that to you do to you mentally having to change everything mid- season.

Patrick.  Man it was tough.  Like I said, I’ve been through a lot of injuries, a lot of adversity over the years, but this was definitely different.  Discomfort wasn’t really an issue in terms of pain or anything structurally in my body.  But discomfort with my delivery, feeling out of sync, my timing, everything just felt out of whack.   Like you said, I started off a little slow.   May rolled around, I started to find my groove a little bit, started mixing things up, results starting getting better.  Then in Altoona that day I have one of the best outings I’ve ever had then after the game the umpire found me and said “Hey I hate to break it to you, this is what going on…”  and my delivery was found to be illegal effective immediately.

At that point I said “Where do I go from here?” and I sat down with the pitching coach and we tried to figure it out on the fly. It didn’t go as planned the first two games, kind of doing something different every pitch.  So the staff was like, before you get hurt, let’s back it off and let’s figure some things out, let’s get a little bit more comfort before you’re competing out there, because obviously once you’re competing the game takes over and you want to get the hitters out, put your team in the best position to win.  So it was tough. I went on the Phantom DL for little bit. I was throwing bullpens often, just trying to figure out something I can repeat the best I can, then build back up, and I finally got something I was somewhat comfortable with, but was still thinking about it a lot.

They built me back up. I had a few decent games, a few bad games, until my shoulder kind of failed on me.  Then we finally said, let’s shut it down. Let’s go into the off-season, let’s get it right, this year didn’t go as planned but let’s just be ready to go day one of spring next year. So this year the mental stuff is awesome, everyone in the front office has supported me.  Obviously what happened is not common with the delivery change especially mid-season.  Looking back on it, I just don’t think it was something realistic to do.   You know I’ve been pitching the same way for years.  All those repetitions, the bullpen sessions, the games, you name it, the practice, it’s just hard to break that habit.

So this offseason, when I shut down for a few months, just rehabbing, I kind of gave my body just time to reset and all that, just working on drills, being methodical each day with my throwing program.  Just iron it out so when I did hit the mound I would be more comfortable and have some basis and groundwork laid and it’s been pretty good so far. I’ve been pretty happy with it.  The staff seems pretty happy with it. We’ve been watching a bunch of different video, reviewing my video, and just trying to figure out the most efficient ways to get my body ready so that my delivery is clean, and with my health concerns and my history, find the most efficient way possible for my arm to keep me out on the field throughout the course of the next season and for years to come.  It’s been a process, but it’s coming along.

Mark:  On that note, how are you feeling health wise this year?

Patrick:  I’m feeling pretty good. Obviously last year things didn’t go as planned.  Had a few hiccups which ended up leading to getting shut down towards the end of the season with shoulder discomfort from the change of delivery and all that.  Spent most of the off-season rehabbing that, figuring out my delivery and trying to get everything right so I’d be good to go for day one of camp.  Up to this point I’ve been on schedule.  I’m full go, no restrictions, which is exciting for when games get going. I’m feeling really good.

Mark: You mentioned the front office and their support. What is your relationship like with Ross (Atkins) and Mark (Shapiro).  Do you get to speak with them often?

Patrick:  Not too often. They visit on occasion. They were there a few times during the season and were like, you gotta take your time, iron this out, we’re here to support you whatever you need and so that was that was refreshing. Then Gil (Kim) came out, the farm director, everybody was kind of like, you know this is uncommon, do what it takes. We were working on different drills, watching film. Like I said just breaking a habit and starting a new one and repeating that for every day for throwing 100 pitches in a game.

Mark: There have been a few changes at the Major League level this year.  How, if at all, does that affect the mood going into spring training?

Patrick:  Obviously we brought in some more arms which is exciting to see because I think that has been a bit of a bit of a struggle the past few years with injuries and stuff.  So it is exciting to bring in Ryu, Roark, we traded for Anderson, we got Shoemaker back. We’ve got some up and coming guys, some guys that debuted last year.  Everybody is just really excited.  It brings more competition, which I think is better for everyone. You know, no complacency, nobody’s just getting handed a spot.  Everybody is fighting for their spot.  So I think it’s just exciting across the board and definitely brings more competition.

Mark:  You mentioned some of the young players coming up. Watching them join the team at the major league level.  Management has stated they want to develop a competitive roster built around a young exciting core of players. You are part of that next wave of pitching talent. What are you most excited about?

Patrick:  It’s exciting you know, obviously a lot of those guys that are up now won in their minor league career, and I came up at the tail end of that.  They won at AA, I was in high A that year.  Playing with a lot of guys over the years and then getting a taste of winning in the minors with those guys and bringing that mentality up.  The front offices put the team in a better position with all the signings and acquisition, but are still keeping that young core in place so it definitely exciting for the near future to see what we can do.

Mark:  Did you watch the Jays when they were in the playoffs in 2015 and 2016

Patrick:  Oh yeah, over the years I’ve been watching.  I watch most of the games.  Playing with guys in spring training you get to know some of the older guys at that point when I was super young, but now the past few years just watching because obviously the guys in the organization I came up with they have started to find their spot up there so it’s pretty cool to see watching those guys. It’s awesome.

Mark:  If there was one thing you would like to tell Toronto fans about yourself, what would it be?

Patrick:  I’m excited to put the injury history behind me and it like you said we got a young group, not just position players, but pitchers as well.  I’m excited to compete and learn from the older guys that we got up there.  Just excited to do my best help contribute to win up there and hopefully make a playoff push in the future and bring that buzz back in Toronto again.

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We are excited for you Patrick.  Cheers and thank you.