Owen Murphy drew glowing reviews on the showcase circuit last summer. The third baseman and right-handed pitcher from Illinois performed well in two of the biggest events in the summer, excelling at the PDP League and with the U.S. 18-and-under national team.
Scouts took notice of Murphy’s success. The attention from scouts increased after Murphy’s performance at the PDP League when he went 4 for 9 with one home run and struck out 10 batters in four scoreless innings.
“It all blew up in my face and came up quick,” said Murphy on the interest from scouts. “I have embraced it and think it’s so cool. I’m always willing to talk to anyone.”
Murphy is now squarely on scouts’ radars in anticipation of the 2022 MLB draft. The Riverside-Brookfield High senior is one of the top prep players in the Midwest and a potential early-round pick in the 2022 draft.
This spring, scouts will flock to Illinois to watch Murphy pitch. If he performs well this spring, he could move his way into first-round consideration.
“To be honest, I think it is super cool,” Murphy said. “It is a dream come true to talk to area scouts. I love every bit and piece of it. No matter how many meetings I go through, I love doing it. I’m super excited for what’s to come. I know this isn’t the end by all means and that I haven’t made it. I am just keeping my head down and working.”
Murphy is a legitimate two-way player. Most scouts believe his primary position will be on the mound if he doesn’t continue as a two-way player. There isn’t a consensus on his future position, though, and Murphy simply views himself as an athlete who can play any position on the field.
“I love swinging the bat, so I am going to give it my best shot this year to keep the two-way dream alive,” Murphy said.
On the mound, Murphy is a 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-handed pitcher who throws a four-seam fastball, curveball, cutter and changeup from a three-quarters arm slot and clean and repeatable delivery.
Murphy mostly relies on his four-seam fastball. The pitch sits 90-94 mph with 2,500 RPMs. The above-average pitch generates swings and misses and serves as his go-to offering.
His 11-to-5 curveball and cutter are his top two breaking pitches, both flashing above-average potential.
Scouts rave about Murphy’s athleticism and competitiveness. Scouts believe he will add velocity to his fastball as he matures. They also feel he can be a quality starting pitcher with at least three reliable pitches in pro ball.
“I am athletic and bring a lot to the table with my talent,” Murphy said. “My ability to compete, whether it’s in the box or on the mound, is my biggest strength. I just love to play the game and win all the time. That’s all I’m trying to do.”
This spring, Murphy hopes to show an improved changeup. He has worked on developing confidence and feel for the pitch. It is a mid-80s offering that displays some fading action.
“My pitching coach tells me that the changeup is the name of the game, and as I get to the higher levels, I am going to need it,” Murphy said. “I have really worked on it because I know that once I get older and the game gets harder that I will need more stuff up my sleeve.”
While Murphy will likely have a chance to embark on a pro career straight out of high school, he also is a Notre Dame commit.
A year ago, Notre Dame had a tremendous season, posting a 34-13 record. The Irish qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015 and won a regional for the second time in program history under coach Lin Jarrett, who will begin his third season this spring.
Murphy committed to Notre Dame as a two-way player. As an infielder, Murphy is solid defensively, possessing athleticism and a strong arm, while offensively hits for some power and consistently squares up the baseball.
“Link Jarrett, Rich Wallace and Chuck Ristano are amazing,” Murphy said. “They are the biggest reason why I committed there. Coach Jarrett tells it how it is, he does everything I look for in a coach, and he wins. I just love the program I am stepping into. I’m a Midwest boy, and I don’t care about the weather.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.