Prospect Profile: John Ryan Murphy

2014 Stats:

Level: AAA/MLB

281 PA   .258/.299/.368   6.0% BB%   22.8% K%   0/0 SB   +3 DEF

Murphy ranked #8 on Chris’ Yankees top 100 list.

Background:

John Ryan Murphy has spent part of the last two seasons in the big leagues and is the backup catcher this season, so it’s kind of weird to still think of him as a prospect. Yet, that’s what Murphy still is given the sparse playing time the soon-to-be 24 year-old has received in the majors. Since being picked in the second round of the 2009 draft, Murphy has been on the prospect radar from the second he signed. Baseball America has ranked Murphy in the Yankees’ top 15 prospects five times, three of those years within the top three.

2014 Results:

Murphy only made 281 trips to the plate between Triple-A and the majors last season, mainly because he spent a good chunk of the season as Brian McCann‘s backup. Without regular playing time, Murphy never really got into a groove in Scranton or New York offensively. At first glance, Murphy’s .284 batting average in 85 plate appearances with the Yankees is mildly impressive. However, his low walk rate, high strikeout rate, and lack of power resulted in a 93 wRC+. He posted an 86 wRC+ in Triple-A in a larger sample (196 PAs). Nothing too impressive, but he appeared adept defensively which made up for any of his offensive shortcomings. As a reserve catcher, that’s about all one can ask for.

What Kiley McDaniel says:

Murphy is somewhere around Refsnyder as an upper level position player ready to contribute to the big league team, but scouts are a little more wary of Murphy’s chance to become an everyday player. He’s a 50 hit, 40 power type without a ton of offensive impact, but he’s better defensively, with a plus arm and at least average defensive skills. Some scouts still see some aspects of defense for him to work on, but indications from the analytical folks are that he’s an above average framer, so if that holds up and he reaches his offensive upside, there could be an everyday catcher here.

What KATOH says:

JR Murphy KATOH

Based on Murphy’s Triple-A performance, KATOH is lukewarm on Murphy. One note: disregard the MLB%, as KATOH has no way of knowing that Murphy has already played in the majors. The system strictly looks at a player’s 2014 performance in the minors. The projection is low on Murphy mainly because he just wasn’t very impressive offensively. In particular, his mediocre BABIP (.284) and walk rate (6.6%) with Scranton puts a damper on Murphy’s forecast. On a positive note, KATOH’s estimates are hitting driven, so the system largely ignores any positives that Murphy brings from behind the plate. Given what we know from McDaniel’s report, perhaps this projection is a little low on Murphy’s future.

2015 Outlook:

As the big league backup catcher, Murphy probably will play 40 to 50 games assuming Brian McCann stays healthy. This isn’t ideal for the former second-rounder’s development, as Murphy might even be ready to handle a starting role on a second division team. Nonetheless, it’s what best suits the Yankees as the team doesn’t stand too much to gain from sending him back to the minors.

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