Sean Murphy: Athletics 2020 Rookie Of The Year
Since the day Sean Murphy signed in 2016, the Athletics have talked about his arm. The young catcher can throw. That was easy to see.
What is not so easy to see is what else Murphy does behind the plate.
“I think Murph is unbelievable back there in keeping guys off balance and knowing where to pitch guys, and where not to,” A's righthander Chris Bassitt said.
Bassitt said he does not like to think much when he is pitching, which makes him a perfect match with the always-thinking Murphy. “Murph calls great games. I owe a lot of my success to him.”
And so do other A’s pitchers. As a 25-year-old rookie, Murphy emerged as a key factor of the team that won the American League West.
The division champs relied heavily on rookies to win. Lefthander Jesus Luzardo held a spot in the rotation all season and Jonah Heim served as the alternate catcher for much of the season. The A’s defied baseball convention by utilizing a pair of rookie catchers.
“He’s been terrific,” A's manager Bob Melvin said of Murphy. “Jonah has, too. Jonah’s learned so fast.”
Murphy came to the A’s as their third-round pick in 2016 out of Wright State. He grew up in Centerville, Ohio, on the outskirts of Dayton. He quickly drew attention because of his arm, which A’s official Grady Fuson graded as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Over the next three seasons, Murphy battled injuries while rising through the system.
“He’s a big guy (6-foot-3), with a stable base that allows him to catch pitches at the bottom of the zone without taking them out of the zone,” A’s farm director Ed Sprague Jr. said. “His catching metrics are some of the best in the league. (Catching instructor) Marcus Jensen has done a great job working with him and continuing to improve his blocking.”
Murphy hit seven home runs and drew 24 walks in 43 games while batting .233/.364/.457. The A’s expect he will continue providing plus power to accompany his plus-plus defense.
They also believe they have found the catcher to lead them into the future.
— The A’s will run a modified instructional league from Sept. 27 to Oct. 30. Since no games were played during the regular season, the emphasis will be on playing games rather than providing intense individual instruction. They have 45 players in camp and hope to play about a couple dozen games.
— Farm director Ed Sprague Jr. said middle infielder Logan Davidson impressed during his time at the alternate training camp in San Jose. The switch-hitter displayed improvement with both his bat and glove.