DUNEDIN, FL — Sporting a freshly waxed handlebar moustache that would make Rollie Fingers jealous, Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Griffin Murphy couldn’t hide his own excitement.
They say of spring training baseball that it’s generally a time of great optimism, so perhaps it’s fitting, but Murphy is a young man that gives off the distinct impression that excitement and enthusiasm are traits of his personality.
Enjoying the first official day of camp for minor-league pitching and catching prospects, the 22 year-old former second-round pick in 2010 (61st overall) gave insight into the Jays much-hyped off-season, the team atmosphere this year in Dunedin, and his personal outlook for the season ahead.
“It’s unbelievable to see that kind of talent pool come into our hands,” Murphy said when asked about the major off-season moves that brought in the likes of pitchers R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson, along with shortstop Jose Reyes. “I know every guy in here when they saw those trades come through were like ‘wow.’”
Murphy is also impressed by the Blue Jays’ overall organizational philosophy when it comes to drafting and developing players.
“Based upon the Blue Jays’ draft class, I can tell that we don’t draft cookie-cutter players, but we do draft cookie-cutter people [in the sense that] everybody, all the way through, are good kids and good human beings.” Murphy said.
“I’ve talked to other players from other organizations and based on the way we’ve talked, I think we have the closest relationships here.”
Murphy’s own development
With regards to his own development as a pitcher, the left-hander is focused on channeling the organization’s optimism and working hard.
After what he described as a “learning experience” rookie season in 2011, Murphy bounced back last season, posting a sparkling 1.70 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched with the Bluefield Blue Jays of the Appalachian league.
His play earned him a promotion to the single-A Vancouver Canadians where he finished the season.
Last year also marked a formal transition from being a starting pitching prospect to a long-reliever. Murphy took the move in stride, and is now eager to continue learning the intricacies of coming out of the bullpen in 2013.
“It’s tough, but it’s also fun because you can come in and just show your best stuff,” said Murphy. “It’s also your job when you’re in the bullpen to really watch hitters and pick up their tendencies, especially in the minors because guys are always moving up and down [between leagues].”
Should Murphy, who is currently ranked as the 17th best prospect in the organization according to MLB.com, continue to build upon his solid 2012 campaign, he could find himself in Rogers Centre bullpen as early as 2015.
Murphy’s fun-loving demeanour, or his throwback tongue-in-cheek facial hair, shouldn’t be confused with lack of focus. His goal is clear and precise.
“It’s my goal to be a 10-year big league ball player,” Murphy said. “I think it would be crazy if you were here and didn’t have that goal.”