One of the hottest pitching prospects in the SF Giants organization through the first month of the 2021 season is right-handed pitcher Ryan Murphy. The Giants’ fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft began the season with the Low-A San Jose Giants and has been dominant. Over the first three starts of his professional career, the 21-year old has a 1.84 ERA with 21 strikeouts against just 2 walks in 14 2/3 innings of work.
A rather unheralded pitching prospect out of Le Moyne, a Division III school in the state of New York, Murphy was viewed by many as a low-level prospect in the system entering the year. However, he’s quickly changing that narrative. I got a chance to chat with him during San Jose’s series against the Fresno Grizzlies and he shared his thoughts about his mentality on the mound, his pitching repertoire, being a part of the talented San Jose roster, and more.
Wrenzie Regodon: How are you? Or I think a better question would be how does it feel to finally play baseball in front of fans?
Ryan Murphy: It’s great to play in front of fans again. I love having that outside element, it can really make the game much more exciting. Having that back is awesome, but more importantly, I’m just happy that we have a baseball season to play this year.
WR: Yeah, baseball really is back! And your performance so far this season really impressed a lot of Giants fans. What do you think about your great start to your professional career?
RM: I always go out there and give everything I have. I work hard to prepare for each start and look to improve upon each outing I have. So far things have really paid off I’d say. My goal really when I go out there is just attacking hitters and controlling the zone. When I command the fastball well it opens up a lot more opportunities to get guys out. So far everything has been great I’m very excited to keep moving forward and taking it one game at a time.
W: I also think that your hard work has paid off! I am impressed with the way you work during the offseason. It really shows how well you are controlling the zone with your heater, with just under 4% walk rate and a strikeout rate of just under 40%. Whenever I watch you pitch, it seems like your heater has that bat-missing life up in the zone and you tunnel your slider and curveball off it. Is that kind of your M.O. on the mound?
R: Absolutely, I am always trying to throw my slider and curve with the same arm speed and arm slot as my fastball. I worked on both of those pitches over the offseason trying to gain velocity on the slider and getting different shapes between the two pitches. At one point they blended together. But commanding the fastball is always my number one objective, tunneling sliders off that pitch helps me get off-balance swings.
W: I really noticed that, notably in your latest start (against Fresno) where hitters were baffled. Speaking of work in the offseason, how did the guys at Velo University help you with your mechanics. To be honest, when you were drafted, the only video that was available to watch is when you are in your freshman year. Your mechanics look much more refined now suffice to say!
R: Haha yeah there wasn’t much video on me but I have grown since then. Basically they just helped me feel more athletic and stronger on the mound. I’ve done some tweaking to my mechanics as far as staying consistent with them and helping me throw strikes. They introduced me to a weighted ball program that’s helped make my arm feel great. We were able to work on pitch design as well and I have to say it was a great offseason with them and I look forward to continuing it with them for now.
W: Great stuff! Have the Giants coaches made adjustments to your style of pitching ever since getting drafted?
R: As far as mechanics the only thing they’ve tweaked was my foot placement on the rubber. Instead of being parallel with the rubber I’m sort of offset so my heel is actually closer to the plate. Helps me get into my lower half more. They also helped me by giving me knowledge of how my pitches play in the zone, what my strengths are, things like that. Overall they’ve helped me nicely over the course of my time with them.
W: I see! I was just curious about one thing in your mechanics. You have your right hand slightly bent whenever you went to the early cocking phase. Is that something that you picked up ever since you were young? I was curious because whenever I throw a baseball myself, I do find my left hand (I am a lefty thrower) to be bent as I feel it gives me a better grip of the ball.
R: Like how I cup the ball behind me?
R: Yeah that was always something that I’ve done. Just natural to me. I always focused on having a loose wrist I wanted everything to be loose, free, and easy. So that’s not really intentional it’s more of just how I naturally throw.
W: I see. Cool stuff. You are a part of an impressive San Jose Giants roster, with great pitchers and hitters all around. How does it feel to be a part of that talented rotation and watch the offensive talent that your team has whenever you are in the dugout?
R: Yeah our team is filled with crazy talent it’s such a cool thing to watch. A bunch of great guys too love them all. Love being a part of such a talented pitching staff we learn a lot from each other. It’s good to be around such great baseball minds, hanging with them watching them throw, you can pick up a thing or two. It’s been very exciting. Then there are our hitters who also have so much talent up and down the lineup 1-9. It’s always exciting baseball I’m glad I have a front-row seat to watch it everyday.
W: I agree with you there! I feel like the team has the chance to either put up double-digit runs or throw a shutout, even both every single game it’s crazy.
I only have a couple more questions in my sleeve left for now. I want to ask about draft day. Were you aware beforehand that the Giants got their eyes on you, the feeling when your name was finally announced, and how did the folks at Le Moyne help shape you not just as a baseball player but as a person?
R: I knew that the Giants had interest in me. I got a text from my agent around the fourth round saying they were thinking about taking me in the fifth. Later on, in the fifth round, I got a text from my agent saying “Yo”. I answered got no reply back. I was kind of rattled, I was thinking to myself “what is even going on right now”. Giants pick comes up and it cuts to commercial. I’m sitting there thinking like “come on what is happening”. When I say it was the longest commercial break ever I mean they were away so long that the draft tracker on the bottom of MLB Network ended up going away. Came back to the draft and sure enough my name was called and my family went nuts I was just so happy.
W: That’s the most frustrating and relieving feeling all in a span of 5 mins! Haha
R: It was a roller coaster for sure! LOL
Le Moyne baseball really made me appreciate everything that I’ve worked for. I don’t take things for granted. I go out there and enjoy every single day that I’m there. I have fun playing the game. Le Moyne taught me a lot about baseball and as a person, it was no different.
W: It’s been awesome talking to you man! I got one final question for you today. After a strong start to your pro career, have you ever thought of what’s next? Like how will you attack this summer?
R: Just continuing to do what I do each day. Keep that routine going. Attack hitters, attack the zone. Commanding the zone. Staying in good shape. Just take it day by day, start by start. Really trying to keep it simple. Offseason work on getting stronger gaining velocity and perfecting my craft like my changeup. Try to get better every day I’m here.
W: That’s awesome man. You have the mindset and talent to become successful man. I have a good feeling that you can keep it up throughout the season. Do you have any message to Giants fans who will be reading this interview?
R: Haha thank you! What I have for Giants fans reading this that I am so excited and happy to be a part of this Giants organization and family. I’ll give them 120% every time I take the field and I hope to one day show that to them at Oracle Park.
W: I look forward to that day man! Thank you so much for your time and I would love to talk to you once again about baseball!
Stay tuned to Around the Foghorn throughout the minor-league season for the latest on SF Giants prospects up and down the farm system.