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Day Three 2009 MLB Draft Thoughts

I was keeping tabs of a handful of players heading into the third day of the draft because, well, that’s what I do. Then it occurred to me in a flash – hey! Why don’t I actually publish some of my thoughts and put them up on that website I run? Clever, right? A quick recap of day three for those of you who made it that far…

RHSP Scott Griggs – The prep arm from California went in the 34th round to Seattle. If you can believe it, I actually had Griggs ranked as the number five overall high school righthander coming into the year, so this is one heck of a fall. The reasons I liked Griggs coming into the eyar (three above-average pitches and potential plus command) are why I think he could re-emerge as a first rounder out of UCLA in 2012.

C Austin Maddox – It’s possible that Maddox could be insurance if the Rays can’t sign 4th rounder Luke Bailey, but it seems almost a certainty that he won’t be needed as a backup plan and will be free to head to Gainesville for three years with the Gators. I’m not sure if it’s been speculating on one way or another yet, but I’ll go ahead and wonder it aloud: any possiblity Maddox, a player with good present skills but little projection left in his body, opts to go the junior college route and re-enter the draft in 2010?

RHSP Scott Swinson – The University of Maryland junior was a deep sleeper coming into the year who must have forgotten to set his alarm clock this spring. The finesse righty will head back to college next year in hopes of improving his draft position (46th rounder of Baltimore).

C Jack Murphy – I thought he had done enough in his first two years at Princeton to warrant a 7/8th round grade, but big league clubs did not agree. Perhaps he made his intentions to return to Princeton known and teams were scared off because of it. Or maybe his subpar junior year against subpar competition was enough to turn teams off. His quick scouting report can be found here, but I included a relevant snippet for those who don’t click through on the links (mostly because I never do):

Murphy is a below the radar 2009 draft prospect who interests me greatly because he seems to have the formula for this year’s draft-eligible college hitters down pat: a couple of above-average tools with some semblance of a track record of success, but no overwhelming physical attributes that would carry him if all other aspects of his game failed, noticeable blips in performance that cause concerns about future production, and an overall lack of polish…

…Final verdict on Jack Murphy – worth a flier in round ten or later because he has the upside of a good big league offensive-minded backup catcher

Murphy could be re-establish himself as a top ten round pick with a big senior year, assuming he heads back to Jersey to grab that Ivy League school diploma.

RHSP Chris Jenkins and RHSP Ethan Carter – Unless I’m missing something, both Jenkins and Carter went undrafted. I find this stunning for many reasons, but I won’t jump to crazy conclusions because I’m sure there is a logical explanation (signability, probably) that explains it all away. I’d love to hear it. I had these two players back-to-back (13th and 14th, I believe) in my preseason rankings and noted their how similar they were at the time:

Carter

Eerily similar stuff Jenkins, but his classic big-bodied pitcher’s frame (6-5, 205) gives him the edge in projectability. Truth be told, his stuff is probably a tick better across the board than [Jordan] Cooper’s (Ed. Note: Cooper was a 17th round pick of the Pirates and ranked just behind Carter on my preseason list) – slightly better present fastball heat, more advanced and varied breaking stuff, and a real changeup. Carter has a chance to fly up this list with a good spring, something that is easy to envision this big righty with sterling makeup doing.

Jenkins

There is plenty to like about Chris Jenkins, namely a heavy fastball that touches 94 MPH and sits in the low 90s, a potential low 80s MPH power slider, a gigantic frame (6-7, 235), and interest from schools like Stanford and Duke. There is also plenty to dislike about Chris Jenkins, namely his spotty command, and high effort delivery. Jenkins’ raw potential is undeniable, but he is a long way away from unlocking it. I know I previously compared Ethan Carter to Jordan Cooper, but perhaps the better comparison is between the two big righties, Carter and Jenkins. Carter has a touch more polish at present, but very few pitchers, Carter included, stack up with Jenkins when it comes to upside.

Was I totally off the mark? Or is something far more nefarious at play? What say you, Google? It appears that Carter is a strong enough commit to South Carolina that he is already enrolled in Summer II classes. Jenkins is going to Stanford, a fact that teams knew about heading into the draft and a perfect explanation why teams would stay away. That explains that. Thanks, Google!

LHSP Chris Manno – The junior from Duke went in the 38th round to Washington. Underrated collegiate performer with good enough stuff to get out big league hitters. I think he could go back to school and turn himself into a top 10 round pick in 2010.

OF Tarran Senay (Pennsylvania) – Like Manno, another 38th round pick. Unlike Manno, Senay is a high school player who is rumored to be about a 50/50 shot to sign. If he doesn’t, he’ll take his high-contact lefthanded approach to NC State.

C Miles Hamblin – How in the world did Miles Hamblin (Howard JC) go undrafted?

RHRP Kyle Thebeau  – Another shocker. The Texas A&M senior was a 9th round pick as a junior, but somehow failed to get drafted at all in 2009. For a player with good enough stuff, improved fastball command, ample big game experience, and a strong finish to the year (as noted by Bryan Smith) to not get drafted at all, well, that’s just weird. Is he hurt?

2009 MLB Draft: Top 25 Draft-Eligible Catcher Big Board

Hope everybody out there had a nice, relaxing long weekend. I spent too much of mine trying to think of creative ways I could cobble something ready to publish Tuesday morning without having it eat into my own nice, relaxing long weekend. I also made my selections as the Angels scouting director in the MVN MLB Outsider Mock Draft, so I’ll be sure to shamelessly self promote my rationale once it goes live later this week.

In the meantime, let’s unleash the full fury of my very own personal draft-eligible catcher big board. It’s not necessarily where I think the players will go on draft day (i.e. Stassi and Sanchez seem like they’ll both land in the first), but instead where I would value each player if I was the boss. Next up in the queue: College Team Profile – Texas Longhorns

Round 1: Wil Myers

Round 1s/2: Luke Bailey, Josh Phegley, Austin Maddox, Max Stassi, Tony Sanchez

Round 4/5: Mike Ohlman, Jonathan Walsh

Round 5/6: Tucker Barnhart, Dan Black, Mark Fleury, Tommy Joseph, Andrew Susac, Josh Leyland, Miles Hamblin, JR Murphy

Round 7/8: Michael Zunino, Jack Murphy, Justin Dalles

Round 9/10: Carlos Ramirez, Steve Baron, Cameron Garfield

Round 10+: Dane Phillips, Miles Head, Robert Stock

2009 Draft-Eligible Top College Catcher Tournament (Part IV – Jack Murphy Edition)

With the draft a little more than a month away it’s time to get a move on. Let’s jump back in to this year’s college catching prospects. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

Why Do College Catching Prospects Fail?
An attempt to answer the above question
Introduction – The 2009 Field
Part IPart IIPart III
Bonus Coverage – Three Quick Notes

Why I’ve spent so much time thinking/writing about such a weak position in this year’s draft is anybody’s guess, but I started this darn catching tournament thing and by gosh I’m going to finish it. It may take me weeks to do what a real writer would do in minutes, but…wait, I have no idea how to finish that thought. But…at least I’ve avoided the Swine Flu thus far? But…at least I’m the best looking baseball draft writer around (you should really see my smile, it makes man, woman, child, and Clooney all weak in the knees, all at once). But…at least I’ve put my time to good use when not writing – I mean, I must have watched this about 6,000 this past week alone. See, there really is no good way to finish that thought? It may have taken me weeks to ge through this simple task, but the end is finally in sight. The beginning of the end starts now. One more regional to go.

The final (maybe) installment of our college catching prospect tournament — yes, it has dragged on long enough that it no longer deserves highly coveted formal title capitalization status — is thankfully here. Let’s see what we’ll see…after the jump, of course.

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The Field of 16 – Top College Catching Prospects

It’s about time we got back to doing some positional rankings around these parts, don’t you think? We covered the top prep righthanded pitching prospects here, here, here, and here, as well as the top college righthanded starting pitching prospects here, here, and here. After a bit of a break, it’s time to jump back in this time with college catching prospects, a topic danced around but never ranked both here and here. Because straight rankings can become a little tiresome after a while, I decided to do something different with the catching prospects. Will it be cool? Will it be super lame? Will it be more confusing and time-consuming than it’s worth? Stay tuned! The top 16 college catching prospects in all the land after the jump, as well as the unveiling of just how we’ll be ranking them this time…

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Why Do College Catching Prospects Always Fail?

Photo Source: About.com

Photo Source: About.com

Alright, always might qualify as a bit of hyperbole (you can’t make it in this world without shock value, you know?), but it’s not as big of a stretch as it sounds. A quick scan of college catching prospects over the past few gradable drafts (gradable meaning we are far enough away to begin accessing what worked and what didn’t, thus eliminating the past four drafts, for now) show college catchers to be an awful investment for big league clubs to make.

The impetus for doing the research, such as it is, was pretty simple. Going through the upcoming draft’s available talent, position by position, revealed what I thought was a simple truth – boy, do these college catchers stink. However, since that initial reaction, I’ve come to a) appreciate some of the potentially undervalued mid-round players, and b) learn to accept the reality that college catchers are largely an underwhelming lot.  With a little historical perspective, this year’s class doesn’t look so bad, all things considered.

The research below follows a fairly simple methodology. I took five draft classes – recent enough to be relevant, but with enough time past to give the players a chance to develop – and simply assessed the success/failure of every college catcher drafted. I began by looking at the first ten catchers taken in each draft class. The number ten was chosen for two reasons – 1) it’s a nice round number and people just love round numbers, and 2) I had originally decided to make my 2009 college catching prospect list a top ten (I’ve since expanded it, but more on that later…). From there, I pulled out the college catchers from the previously selected draft classes and did a very scientific, high tech analysis of each player. My highly sophisticated method of measuring success/failure was based on a complicated, hard to comprehend question; for each catcher, I asked myself the following: is this player a “useful” major leaguer or not?

There are flaws in the research, something I recognize and feel obligated to point out. Five years is hardly a representative sample, the absence of the success/failure rate of other positions is a real drawback (I’d love to compare and contrast these findings with, say, the success rate of college middle infielders or something), and the vague terminology (“useful”) is open to interpretation…all of these are definite flaws that should be taken into consideration going forward. However, sometimes the data paints such a clear picture that it’s difficult to envision being able to draw any other conclusion.

After the jump, the damning evidence that college catching prospects don’t want you to see…

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