Sean Murphy Makes Noise At The Plate

MESA, Ariz.—Sean Murphy has yet to hit a home run in the Arizona Fall League after hitting 13 in 98 games during the regular season.

Not to worry, though. The Athletics catcher is still hitting the ball plenty hard.

Murphy made hard contact in all five of his at-bats Saturday and finished 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, helping Mesa pummel Salt River 16-2 at Sloan Park.

Murphy struck of pair of hard singles, lifted a ball deep the opposite way to right field that was caught and scorched a liner right at the left fielder. In his fifth and final at-bat, he smoked a two-run double into the right-center field gap.

Hard contact has been a theme all fall for Murphy. He is hitting .317 with an .431 on-base percentage in the AFL, even though the home runs haven’t come.

“I think he’s had a great Fall League so far,” said Mesa hitting coach Mike Hessman, a coach in the Tigers system. “He’s hit the ball extremely hard driving the ball into the gaps. The home runs will come. You can see there is definitely some pop in his bat and he’s putting together quality at-bats.”

The Athletics drafted Murphy in the third round in 2016 out of Wright State primarily because of his defense. Long known as a sterling receiver with a cannon for an arm that opponents simply stop running on, Murphy lived up to his reputation as a top-flight defender while also showing some offensive thump in his first full season.

He hit .297 with 11 doubles, nine home runs and an .870 OPS in 45 games at Stockton, resulting in a quick promotion to Double-A.

That’s where Murphy hit a wall. His defense remained stout but his offense cratered in the Texas League, as he struggled to a .209/.288/.309 slash line.

“I started facing better pitching, guys who knew how to pitch more, struggled a little bit and started pressing,” Murphy said. “I’ll admit that’s absolutely what happened. As long as you learn from those mistakes you can rebound from them and realize where you went wrong, you can fix them.”

By all appearances, Murphy is fixing them. With an emphasis on using his lower half to get the most out of his muscular 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame, the Ohio native has been pounding balls to all fields during the fall, particularly into the right-center gap.

“It’s always a good sign when you can see the hitter use the whole field,” Hessman said. “There have been a couple little spurts where he’s gotten a little pull-conscious. Big strong guy like that, he can let the ball travel a little bit and drive the ball the other way.”

Now, the final trick for Murphy will be to add a home run before the AFL season ends. It’s something he can live without, but he admits he wants with four games remaining.

“I’ve hit a lot of singles out here, not that I’m upset about that, but I think there is always room for improvement,” Murphy said. “’Home runs are thrown not hit’ is what they say. I’m not pressing too hard to put the ball out of the park, although it’s always fun to.”


—Nationals outfielder Victor Robles was hit in his left foot by a pitch from Tanner Scott in the sixth and left the game an inning later. He was noticeably favoring the foot after the game as he walked around.

—Rockies outfielder Yonathan Daza went 3-for-4 out of the leadoff spot for Salt River. Daza is hitting .317 in the AFL after winning the California League batting title with a .341 batting average for Lancaster.

—Tigers shortstop A.J. Simcox and Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker joined Murphy in going 3-for-5, helping lead Mesa’s 18-hit outburst. All nine starters reached base at least twice for the Solar Sox.

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