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Sean Murphy Draws Attention For His Bat

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BEST PLAYER

Defense may be what draws the raves for catcher Sean Murphy, but his bat has consistently improved to the point where he has emerged as a premier prospect.

Murphy hit .314/.360/.529 through 51 games at Double-A Midland while showing occasional power in the form of six home runs, 22 doubles and two triples.

"He can backspin some balls and hit gap to gap,” farm director Keith Lieppman said. "It’s just an evolving process of a really good player getting accustomed to professional baseball.”

The 23-year-old Murphy was the Athletics' third-round pick in 2016 from Wright State, and his defense is considered exceptional. Some scouts rank his arm as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and the rest of his work behind the plate is also considered well above-average.

BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD

Richie Martin had fallen on tough times as an all-glove shortstop in an organization filled with middle infielders. So before the season, he went to the eye doctor and got a new look at baseball.

With a new prescription for his contact lenses and a number of eye exercises, Martin has started seeing the ball much better. The result has been that a weak hitter has turned into a force, hitting .322/.390/.475 through 48 games at Midland.

"He stuck to a plan and an approach,” Lieppman said. "When he started, he liked to tinker with his swing and approach. He never stuck to anything very long. He finally found something that works, and he’s grinding out at-bats.”

The 23-year-old Martin’s defense has always been superior, both at shortstop and second base, but after hitting .234 in 2017, there were concerns that his bat would not carry him to the major leagues. With his improved eye sight, he has a new vision for the future.

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Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet (6/17/19)

Ranking baseball's 20 hottest prospects from last week, led by a Braves outfielder who is one of Double-A's most productive hitters.

A’s ACORNS

** The A’s are expecting a big rebound from Triple-A Nashville third baseman Sheldon Neuse, who hit just .198/.253/.249 through 62 games after a spectacular 2017. Lieppman said Neuse is making the adjustments needed to face advanced pitching, and he expects the current struggles to be a learning experience that ultimately improves him as a player.

** Reliever J.B. Wendelken continues to make an excellent recovery from Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss 2017. Lieppman said the righthander has improved his changeup, which should make him even tougher when he returns to the majors.

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