How often is it that a guy touted as the “catcher of the future” truly lives up to his name in his Major League debut?
Sadly, Baseball-Reference does not have a category for “guys named catcher of the future” so I can’t give you a real answer, but it’s not very often. Players get hyped before they even get signed to a major league contract, but frequently drop off from their illustrious titles, or fade into the herd of a million “best-ofs.”
In fact, Sean Murphy was not always a “best of.” The eyes of recruiters did not follow Murphy in high school, skimming over him to rest on his teammates instead. As a junior, he was just 5’9, 145 lbs.
With no college scholarships thrown his way, Murphy had to find a way to keep playing. Close to his hometown, he found solace in Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, where he could pursue his baseball dream.
Asked if he could, would Murphy choose to go back and tell his younger self that everything was going to work out, he said he would not. The journey put a chip on his shoulder he would not have gotten otherwise.
The trials were not done for Murphy, as he broke his left hamate bone in his Junior year at Wright State and was forced to go through with surgery. He rebounded, but the surgery did not help his MLB draft placement, as he waited until the 3rd round to hear the A’s call his name. Once in the pros, in 2018 Murphy was on a .288/.358/.498 tear through AA Midland when he suffered a broken right hamate bone, which knocked him out for seven weeks. Bad hamate luck!
The injuries continued this summer, as a torn meniscus in his knee knocked him out for half the season. Fortunately, he recovered from that latest setback in time to get the call for his MLB debut.
Now 6’3” and 232 lbs, Murphy was called up on September 1st, just over a month before his 25th birthday. The plan, according to Susan Slusser, was to ease Murphy in as a backup, sitting comfortably in the third string catcher slot. It was a solid plan — get Murphy a feel for the Bigs, get to know his teammates, and get some one-on-one work with veterans like Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann.
Sean Murphy had no interest in sitting comfortably.
Murphy got his first hit in his first MLB game. That hit happened to also be a home run.
Two days later, he followed that up with a 2 homer, 4 RBI game in the 21-7 A’s victory over Houston on September 10th.
The Murphy plan went from try-to-get-him-experience to 13 starts in September, totaling 4 dingers, 8 RBI, and drawing 6 walks. When it came time to pick the starting catcher for the Wild Card Game against Tampa Bay, Melvin gave the nod to Murphy.
After the season concluded, Murphy had surgery on his left knee, in regard to the previous meniscus injury. He is expected to be fine by Spring Training.
Some guys take some time to settle into the Majors, some can’t wait to show what they can do. When you have a guy with the talent and work ethic and results of Sean Murphy, you can’t help but feel a chill of hype for the 2020 A’s season. It’s gonna be a good one.
Sean Murphy, the catcher of the future, is part of an offensive attack ready for 2020 at a pivotal time in Oakland A’s history. A time where their growth has spawned two potseason berths in a row and — barring any freak injuries — is slated to be even better next year.