Yankees Prospects: No. 14 J.R. Murphy

The picture our old manager, Ed Valentine, used after Murphy signed back in 2009.

Date of Birth: May 13, 1991 in Bradenton, Florida

Height/Weight: 6'0", 190 pounds

Position: Catcher, Third Base

J.R. Murphy was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft. His stock rose during his senior year of high school when he made the switch from outfield to catcher, and that showed with his inclusion in Baseball America's and Keith Law's top 100 draft prospects. His commitment to the University of Miami provided the leverage he needed for a $1.25M signing bonus.

In his professional debut, Murphy saw very limited action. In 37 plate appearances, Murphy's triple slash was impressive at .333/.405/.485. Granted, this was a very small sample size. In 2010, Murphy spent the year with Charleston, the Yankees' A Ball affiliate. In his first full season of professional baseball, Murphy held a triple slash line of .255/.327/.376 with 7 homers and 15 doubles at the age of 19. So far in 2011, his line at Charleston is .333/.348/.524 with 3 homers and 3 doubles.

Scouting Report: Per Mike Axisa of RAB:

The first thing everyone notices about Murphy is his swing and hitting ability. He has a simple, compact, and level swing that produces good bat speed and is conducive to line drives. Combined with a disciplined approach, Murphy should have no trouble hitting for average as he climbs the ladder. At 6′-0″ tall and 190 lbs, he stands to add muscle as he fills out, which should allow him to drive a healthy amount of balls out of the park down the road.

Murphy’s an above average athlete, though he’s not quite as good of a runner as you’d expect, and will only slow down as he matures. Defensively, he didn’t start catching until his senior year of high school, so he’s very raw behind the dish. He does have a strong and accurate arm, though he needs experience at just about everything the position demands. Murphy’s athletic enough that he can play other positions – including third base – but the Yankees are going to try to extract as much value as possible out of him before making a switch.

A switch back to the outfield or to third base is not out of the question, especially with the wealth of catching depth the Yankees possess. 

Another thing I read in the past is that Murphy has shown very good power in batting practice, but that power has not translated well to games. As that power begins to translate, he'll see more success and his stock will rise.

Here are multiple scouting reports on the former second rounder.

Estimated Time of Arrival: If J.R. Murphy ever sees time behind the plate for the New York Yankees, I will be very surprised. With Russell Martin, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, and Gary Sanchez in the organization, it will be very difficult for him to crack the depth chart. He is more likely to change positions or be traded.

However, knowing the Yankees, Murphy will stay behind the plate until it becomes blatantly obvious that he cannot stay there in order to maximize his value. Athletic catchers with decent power potential don't come along very often, so if his defense improves, the Yankees will be in luck, as Murphy would be another catcher in an already loaded system.

If he stays with the Yankees, Murphy will most likely be going station-to-station when it comes to his development. I don't think he'll play in the Bronx, but if he does, late 2013 or 2014 seems to be a realistic date for his arrival, assuming all goes well.

Check back Friday for prospect number 13.

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