I spoke with SF Giants pitching prospect Ryan Murphy a couple of months ago about his hot start as a professional with a 2.19 ERA in five starts in May with 32 strikeouts and only four walks in 24.2 innings of work. Unfortunately, things went awry once the calendar flipped to June, as the right-hander recorded a 5.75 ERA in five starts. The strikeouts still came in bunches with 28 in 20.1 innings with a solid walk rate. However, it was the long ball that was the issue for Murphy as he gave up seven homers, three of which came in his final June start against Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
Once the calendar flipped to July, Murphy did not only look past his June struggles but also took his game to another level. In five July starts, the 2020 fifth round draft choice had a 1.74 ERA with a whopping 56 strikeouts in 31 innings of work, generating a fantastic strikeout rate of 48.7%. In addition, the right-hander was getting swings and misses throughout the month with a 38.65% whiff rate. All while keeping the ball in the yard, limiting opponents to two home runs.
SF Giants pitching prospect Ryan Murphy discusses his hot July.
I caught up with Ryan Murphy after his latest start against the Inland Empire 66ers, where he pitched six shutout innings of two-hit baseball with two walks and 11 strikeouts, his fifth straight game with at least 10 or more strikeouts. He induced a career-high 20 whiffs in his outing. When I asked about the secret to his success this month, the right-hander replied that he fixed something with his arm path, “getting his arm on time,” Murphy said. “[It] helped me be more consistent and locate better.”
With 11 more strikeouts in his latest start, it brought Murphy’s strikeout total to 116, which leads the entire Low-A level and has eight more strikeouts than the man in second place, his teammate Carson Ragsdale, who Murphy overtook during this stretch. When I asked Murphy if he poked a joke to his rotation-mate, and apparently roommate, about their race to the top of the strikeout mountain, Murphy laughingly said, “Of course… He’s a great guy. I love him. He’ll take it back soon enough.”
The 21-year old leads the Low-A-West league in strikeouts and leads the league in innings pitched, is second in ERA, WHIP, and opponent’s batting average against, and third in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Murphy generates plenty of running action with his fastball that sits around 91-95 mph and has a flatter than usual approach angle due to his 6’1″ height. He has two distinct breaking balls that both flash above-average and generate plenty of swings and misses. His slider tunnels well with his fastball with more vertical than horizontal break, and his curveball has sharp 11-5 bite. The former is a more consistent offering. He also has a changeup that flashes average, but he only sparingly throws it. He has good control of his pitches, executes when he misses his spot, and will flash command with his fastball and both breaking balls.
With how good Murphy’s pitching this month and the pleasant projection that his repertoire possesses as he progresses through the minors, it’s easy to root for the right-hander and project future success. The Giants primarily took the then 20-year old Le Moyne product in order to save money to sign Kyle Harrison for an over-slot deal last year. However, he’s proving to be worthy of his fifth-round selection anyway.
The cost to sign Harrison was justified as the left-hander is now the best pitching prospect in the organization. But the SF Giants know they also found a diamond in the rough when they selected Ryan Murphy with their final pick in the 2020 draft. As the calendar flipped once more, it will be much easier for the public to see Murphy’s potential if he keeps his dominant form until the end of the season.