While he’s begun to make a name for himself within the confines of Yankee Stadium, John Ryan Murphy may quietly be positioning himself to be one of the New York Yankees top trade chips in the coming months. The soon-to-be 23 year old backup catcher has never figured prominently into the Yankees’ long term plans behind the plate, but he’s shown enough in his brief tenure in the Major Leagues that scouts are starting to openly wonder whether he could figure into another organization’s plans before long, according to John Harper at the New York Daily News.
New York’s struggles to build a strong farm system have been widely discussed in recent years. The team has, however, long been viewed as an organization with some quality options behind the plate rising through their ranks. To date none of those options have quite panned out. Jesus Montero was traded just as soon as he arrived in the Major Leagues. He’s now back at Triple-A and has been moved to another position. Austin Romine encountered similar problems at the plate once he debuted in New York. Gary Sanchez, expected to be the best of the group, has yet to climb above Double-A.
Murphy, meanwhile, has made the most of the opportunities he’s been given.
The former 2nd Round pick in the 2009 Draft struggled in a brief callup last September. With neither him nor Romine appearing ready to take on a larger role, the Yankees went out and addressed their immediate need behind the plate following the retirement of Jorge Posada with free agent signee Brian McCann – a move that effectively closed the door on any of this group landing a starting role for the foreseeable future. Murphy, however, might be emerging as the best option for that backup role.
He returned to New York earlier this month, after seeing Francisco Cervelli land on the disabled list once again, and has hit .308/.308/.538 through his first six games. While the sample size is exceptionally small, he’s done enough to impress rival scouts who’ve been in attendance to watch many of the Yankees’ games. He’s impressed behind the plate with his ability to handle a pitching staff and has shown a comfort at the plate that few expected. Making just his second start on Sunday, Murphy capped off the day with his first career home run.
Murphy’s background has prepared him for the life of a Major Leaguer, as Harper notes. He went to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida – essentially a high school designed to help train and develop athletes – where his mother had worked for numerous years. Hard work is something he’s used to, which should continue to pay off.
New York has been able to maintain their position near the top of the AL East standings in the early goings but the team has been hit hard by injuries on the season already. With the increasing likelihood that they could need a pitcher – either a starter or reliever or both – before midseason they may be forced to look elsewhere for a potential trading partner. Nearly every team across baseball could be in need of an upgrade behind the plate, which could potentially make Murphy an appealing option if he’s able to continue impressing scouts at such a pace.