Red Sox prospect Chris Murphy could be in the Majors soon(ish)
If the 2020 season has taught us anything so far, it’s that the Boston Red Sox pitching is bad – really, really, really bad. The starting rotation has tons of holes. Even if Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale were healthy, we’d be talking about how bad the back of the rotation is.
Meanwhile, the bullpen has some great arms in it but has more issues than anything else. At any moment, Boston could put a reliever in the game that half the fans have never heard of. That’s a serious problem. With that in mind, there are two different solutions. You could look for help in free agency, or you could build from the minors.
If you’ve read any article by me ever, you’ll know what my answer is. So let’s take a look at the minor leagues.
There are obvious names that will be brought up. Bryan Mata is a star, Jay Groome still has tons of ace potential, and whenever he gets to pitch Noah Song will dominate. Let me throw a name out at you though, Chris Murphy.
Murphy was selected in the sixth round of the 2019 MLB Draft by Boston. And in his first year in the Red Sox system, he made an incredible impression. He made 10 appearances in 2019, all for the Short-A Lowell Spinners and all as a starter. In that time, the left-hander threw 33 1/3 innings.
So what came out of those innings? How about 34 strikeouts and a 1.08 ERA? It’s not like he was wiggling his way out of trouble either, Murphy rocked an incredible .197 BAA and a 0.90 WHIP.
Now, I already hear the questions.
“That’s a great season, but he’s still only 22 with not even half a season in Short-A under his belt, so how is he a pitching solution in the near future?”
Simple, because Murphy’s already got most things down. At 6’1″, 175 lbs he’s a pretty solid frame for a pitcher. Meanwhile, he already has four solid pitches.
There’s the fastball that sits in the low-90s. He can reach back to put some extra heat on it, but for now, he’s usually around 92. He showed pretty good control of the pitch and isn’t afraid to go after hitters with it.
Next, we have a low-to-mid-70s curveball. It has a strong break on it and can really disappear on the hitters. Murphy might not have perfect control yet, which can cause the pitch to be left up and not curve much. But for the most part, it’s a solid pitch and something that can make hitters look foolish.
Then there’s an 80(ish)-MPH slider. The break on it is not as pronounced as the curveball, but it’s sharper. It cuts fast and could have hitters lunging for it on occasion.
Finally, there’s the changeup. And yes I saved the changeup for last because a good one is the best pitch in baseball and you will never change my mind on this. Murphy’s is usually right around 80-MPH. It comes out of his hand looking like a fastball (same arm motion) and has a nice late drop. This is the pitch that he’s going to make hitters look stupid with, often.
And all four of those pitches are ready. They aren’t completed yet, he could still improve on all of them. But they are all good enough to work.
Obviously 2020 sucks. It’s the bad song on a classic album, the one you skip every time. And that’s going to hurt the development of a lot of minor leaguers. With that in mind, we sort of need to add a year when predicting when players will break into the Majors.
So a 22-year-old pitcher who only has 33 1/3 innings under his belt, all in Short-A. You’d guess a good three-four years away, right? Add that extra year because of the 2020 debacle and you’re looking at 2024 at the earliest.
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Not for Murphy though. Yes, the lefty has some work to be done, and the Red Sox should not rush him. But the pieces are there. He has the build. He has the pitches and the talent. And the Red Sox have the need.
This is a player to keep an eye on in the minors, he could shoot up the ladder fast. Expect 2021 to be a year that sees him make multiple leaps in levels. Murphy is a left-hander that could make a serious mark in the rotation. But also has pitches that could be deadly out of the bullpen. I’m talking late-inning role.
The Red Sox could use him in multiple ways, meaning he could be the answer to anyone of their many pitching problems. Give him time to develop, but don’t worry you won’t have to wait too long to see him in the Majors.
If 2020 is the skip on an album than the rest of Murphy’s career is going to be Chicken-N-Beer … Straight classics, you won’t be disappointed. And yes, that was a Ludacris reference and a 2011 Red Sox reference all in one. I don’t think that’s ever been done in an article before.