There’s focused – and then there’s Jack Murphy focused

If you happen to run into Dodgers catching prospect Jack Murphy during spring training at Camelback Ranch, you will immediately notice one thing about him – he is there to play baseball. No silliness, no clubhouse horseplay, no slacking off, just pure 100 percent give-it-all-you’ve-got baseball.

Oh sure, spend a few minutes talking with the soft-spoken soon-to-be 28-year-old Sarasota, Florida native and you quickly realize that he is extremely polite and a great guy, but make no mistake about it, he is taking his non-roster invitation to Dodgers major league spring training camp very seriously.

If there were an award for Most Intense Player in camp, Jack Murphy would win it - hands down. (Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

If there were an award for Most Intense Player in camp, Jack Murphy would win it – hands down.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Murphy was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 31st round of the 2009 MLB First Year Player Draft out of Princeton University. And while being the 940th overall player selected may not come with all the glitz and glamour enjoyed by lower round draft picks, Murphy has never let that discourage him – not for one second. In fact, in addition to his seven seasons in the Blue Jays minor league system – up to and including one season with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons – he played three seasons of winter ball with the Canberra Cavalry of the Australian Baseball League, including their 2013 Australian Championship season.

But after spending seven professional seasons with one team, what was it like to be traded to the Dodgers this past off-season?

“Toronto was pretty laid-back, kind of like it is here,” Murphy said. “It’s the same game, the same process – getting the pitchers ready – but I doubt it’ll be a whole lot different. Baseball’s a small world, a lot of places are run similarly, but it’s got great energy here and I’m just really happy to be here.”

Although coming to a new team after so many years with one organization undoubtedly has its challenges, it also has its rewards – such as working with Dodgers World Series Champion catcher and series co-MVP Steve Yeager and longtime Dodgers catching coordinator Travis Barbary.

“It was awesome. I got to come down here [to Camelback Ranch] in September when I got traded and I was here a month working with them,” said Murphy. “It was awesome … a ton of knowledge and it’s good because I’ve only been one other place, so it’s good to hear new, fresh ideas. I needed that, I needed a change and I’m just happy that I’m out here and to be able to work with those guys.”

Murphy discussing catching tactics with longtime Dodgers catching coordinator Travis Barbary. (Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

Murphy getting some one-on-one time with longtime Dodgers catching coordinator Travis Barbary.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

When you’ve been around as long as Murphy has, there are no delusions of grandeur. He is well aware of the catching depth within the Dodgers organization. But he is also well aware that things can change very quickly and he maintains a very positive attitude.

“That stuff can change with a foul ball,” Murphy said. “It’s way too early and I don’t really concern myself with that. I just try to go out there and play and let it fall where it will. All I can do is get ready, wait for my opportunity, wherever that comes.”

There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that when Jack Murphy’s opportunity does come, he will be ready.

…and he’ll be as focused as ever.

 

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14 Responses to “There’s focused – and then there’s Jack Murphy focused”

  1. SoCalBum says:

    Princeton grad (history) and a career minor league catcher — seems destined to be a baseball manager or coach

  2. OldBrooklynFan says:

    For the minute there, I thought that was a picture of Jayson Werth in catching gear.

  3. Snider Fan says:

    Didn’t he come over in September for Darwin Barney? Seems like a good guy, though with the Dodger’s depth at catcher I’m not sure his chances of playing in the majors are improved. Barney re-signed with Toronto after doing a nice job down the stretch last year.

  4. Truebluewill says:

    Nice article, Ron. Where do you think he will land at the end of ST?

    • Ron Cervenka Ron Cervenka says:

      This is a very tough call, Will. There are (finally) several great catching prospects within the Dodgers organization and predicting where they will all land is quite difficult.

      That said, my guess is that Austin Barnes, Shawn Zarraga and either Murphy or Kyle Farmer will land in OKC. I think that in addition to their defense, how they do with the bat may come into play in making the final roster decisions.

  5. Bluenose Dodger Bluenose Dodger says:

    Hopefully Jack can get his batting average up a few notches.That most likely is all that is keeping him from a MLB position. His passion and determination mean that there will always be a place for him in the game but his focus is on playing at the MLB level.

    Kudos to Jack and all minor league players who face the odds and give their all every time out.

  6. AlwaysCompete says:

    Being the father of a 9 year career minor league player, I too am hopeful that Jack does get his call. My son finally got his call up during his eighth season, but it always felt like he would never get it. If OKC carries three catchers, I think Jack could become the #3. I think management still thinks Farmer is a legit prospect, and so he would probably be sent to Tulsa to catch everyday rather than sit behind Barnes and Zarraga. It is amazing how many players at the AAA level never get the call because they are in the wrong organization. It’s possible that Jack will need to wait until he is a minor league FA and can determine which team will give him his best chance. Jack has the right attitude, and I hope it pays off for him.

    • Bluenose Dodger Bluenose Dodger says:

      Is you son still playing?

      I think you are right about Farmer playing every day and also probably Barnes. Wondering Barnes will eventually be converted to full time 2B-3B or utility.

      • AlwaysCompete says:

        Unfortunately, no. He had a serious injury misdiagnosed that delayed the proper treatment, and he was forced to retire when he couldn’t come back the next year. But he had a very good minor league career, and walked away with a WS ring.

        I think Barnes will stay at catcher and replace AJ Ellis in 2017. If he can develop a good rapport with Urias, De Leon, Cotton, Stripling, Montas, and C Anderson, he could become the favored catcher to the bulk of the future rotation, moving Grandal to the backup C/1B.

        • Bluenose Dodger Bluenose Dodger says:

          WS ring. That’s not too shabby.

          Sorry for his injury. I don’t think many folks realize what minor league players go through as they work their way through the system. The competition is so intense, the pay abysmally low and there is always the inevitable injury.

          Minor league baseball is of course the foundation for MLB. No minor league ball – no MLB. Thank your son for his service and for his passion for the game. It is appreciated.

      • Ron Cervenka Ron Cervenka says:

        I haven’t posted it yet, but I’m working on an article on how the Dodgers are planning to work Barnes out at 2B and 3B this spring. Doc called Austin very athletic, noting that he played SS in college.

        Barnes’ versatility could make him a huge trading chip and/or open the door for guys like Jack or Shawn or Kyle to catch at OKC this season – and perhaps even with the big club.

        As Jack noted: “That stuff can change with a foul ball.” I absolutely loved this quote. It is so very true.

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