Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012 Top Prospects #27: Griffin Murphy

Name: Griffin Murphy
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Acquired: 2nd round (2010)
Opening Day age: 21
Height/weight: 6’3”/200 lbs
Best/worst tool: Fastball/command
Risk factor: High
ETA: 2015

Scouting Report

Griffin Murphy features the typical left-handed starter arsenal – a fastball, curveball, and changeup. The fastball is his best pitch, grading out as above average to fringe plus. It sits in the high 80’s and low 90’s, touching 93 mph. In addition to the solid velocity, Murphy has good command of the pitch, something that is difficult to find in young starters. His curveball clocks in the mid 70’s, but its break has drastically improved since being drafted. In high school it often looped, but Murphy has tightened the pitch up to show a much harder bite. His changeup is solid-average with above average potential. Unlike many young pitchers, Murphy isn’t afraid to use the pitch, throwing it aggressively in any and all counts. While he has good fastball command, his control over his offspeed pitches comes and goes with frequency. What holds Murphy back from the high-end pitching prospects in the system is his lack of projectibility. Now 21, Murphy already has a thick frame at 6’3” and 200 lbs so there’s not a ton of room to grow velocity-wise.

2011 Statistics and Analysis

11 games (11 starts), 41.0 IP, 48 H, 20 ER, 6 HR, 16 BB, 39 K
2-2, 4.39 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 8.56 K/9, 2.44 K/BB, 1.20 GO/AO

More than a year after being drafted by Toronto, Murphy finally put on the uniform and got into some professional games. Given the level (Gulf Coast League) and his age (20), the results were a little bit disappointing. With a good fastball and some feel for a changeup and curve, you would expect for a pitcher like Murphy to destroy the 17-20 year olds who comprise the GCL. While the strikeouts were there, he got hit around (10.54 H/9) and hit around hard (1.32 HR/9). The ERA could have been a lot worse as well, as in his July 16th start he allowed 10 base runners in 3 innings, but 6 of the 8 runs he gave up were unearned. Some positives to take were how he started and ended the year. In his first 2 starts, he went 9 total innings allowing 3 runs and striking out 14, and in his last 2 starts, he went 10 total innings allowing 1 run and striking out 10. It was just the middle 7 starts that gave him fits.

Expected 2012 Assignment: Low-A Vancouver or Single-A Lansing

Future Outlook

One year into his career, Griffin Murphy is already falling behind on his development path. Murphy was old for a high school draftee at 19, and by signing late the age issue quickly compounded itself –- he wouldn’t throw a professional pitch until he was 20. Toronto probably felt they were giving him an easy assignment with the Gulf Coast League, and likely planned on a late season promotion to a higher level. Murphy failed to impress, so the promotion never came. Now 21, Murphy faces an uphill battle likely to be loaded with some aggressive assignments. Lansing would be a huge leap from the GCL, but it would put him back on the correct timeline. Otherwise, Murphy is due for another season in short season ball, which would really, really hurt his prospect stock. The best case scenario would have Murphy in Toronto mid-to-late 2015, but with such a slow start to his career it’s nearly impossible to predict an ETA.

Perfect World Projection: Above average back-end starter

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