After signing, Murphy got into nine games in the Gulf Coast League in 2009. He wasted little time making an impression, going .333/.405/.485/.890 with a homer and seven RBIs. Four bases were stolen against him and he caught no one stealing in his few chances.
For his first full year of professional baseball, Murphy headed to Charleston, where he caught for the RiverDogs. He played 87 games for the Yankees low-A affiliate and put up decent offensive numbers, going .255/.327/.376/.703 with 7 homers, 15 doubles, two triples and 54 RBIs. He even flashed a little speed, swiping four bags and getting thrown out five times. Behind the plate, Murphy put in a lot of work as he continues to learn the position. He threw out 23% of baserunners and improved his blocking, game calling and throwing skills. Murphy did commit eleven errors and allowed 13 passed balls.
Murphy felt good coming out of Spring Training and returned to Charleston to start the 2011 season, where he split time behind the plate with Sanchez. In 63 games in low-A, Murphy caught 38, DHed 17 and played eight games at third. He put together an impressive offensive line of .297/.343/.457/.800, with 23 doubles, six homers and 32 RBIs. He stole two bases, as well. Defensively, Murphy still has some stuff to learn, but has shown improvement, throwing out 27% of runners and committing eight errors.
His strong showing in Charleston earned Murphy a trip to Tampa recently. He has played fifteen games for the Yankees and seems to be making the adjustment, hitting .273/.288/.436/.724, with six doubles, a homer and nine RBIs. Over his last ten games, Murphy is hitting .351.
Obviously, his bat has been the key to his prospect status from the start. Murphy has good pitch recognition and shows a lot of patience and calm at the plate, particularly for someone as young as he is. He has a compact swing and good bat speed which should help him hit for average in his career. He is not as big as Montero, but don’t sleep on Murphy’s power, as he makes good use of his legs and can hit to all fields.
Murphy has shown the ability to swipe the occasional base during his short time in the minors. His speed probably projects to just average or a bit below, but for a catcher he is a surprise on the bases.
As I mentioned, Murphy is still relatively new to catching and the Yankees have played him at third a few times this year, though that may partly be attributed to making sure Sanchez got plenty of time behind the plate as well. He continues to improve on all areas of catching. He has a strong arm and shows decent agility and could be an average defensive catcher in the majors. While Murphy definitely shows potential behind the plate, it may not be surprising if the Yankees start playing him more at third and even in the outfield, if they feel Montero, Romine or Sanchez are more apt to stick at catcher.
Murphy projects as a major league starting catcher whose bat could be a real weapon. He is still a ways from reaching the majors, particularly as he continues to learn and hone his defense. His ability to play third and perhaps the outfield, give Murphy a versatility that the Yankees may take advantage of down the line, but it is safe to say that for now they are content to allow him to develop behind the plate.