A longer conversation with J.R. Murphy
Murphy is one of the team’s second wave of catching prospects behind Jesus Montero and Thunder backstop Austin Romine that also includes RiverDog teammate Kyle Higashioka, Gulf Coast League wunderkind Gary Sanchez and 2010 draftee Tyler Austin.
Murphy spoke with The Trentonian before the third game of the series. Here’s what he said:
JN: How do you think your first professional season is going?
JM: I think it’s going well. I think the adjustment’s been pretty good. I like the way we’re doing the catching thing — two on, two off with me and (Higashioka) — I think that’s helped the transition a lot.
JN: This is a system that is stocked with catchers. Do you envision yourself staying at that position, or perhaps moving away from the dish at some point?
JM: I love catching, so that’s what I’ll do until they tell me I can’t. There is a lot of great catchers here, but I think that helps me. I learn a lot from them.
Spring training, I talked to them a lot, got feedback from them on a lot of things. Like I said though, I can’t control them and I can’t control their years and what not, so I’ve just got to keep going about my business.
JN: Specifically, who did you talk to about catching?
JM: Montero a lot last year in spring training, I talked to Monty a lot. Romine, talked to him during instructs — he was getting ready for the fall league — talked to him a lot.
Even Higgy this year, learning how to handle pitchers and stuff like that.
JN: Being from Bradenton, did that make your first big league spring training a little bit easier of a transition?
JM: Definitely. We had Sundays off, so I would go home every Saturday night and spend the day with my family. I’m real close with my family, so that was a lot easier than having to go out to Arizona or something like that, with one of those teams.
I met a lot of good guys here, so I didn’t have a problem staying up in Tampa a lot. Definitely being close to home was definitely a plus.
JN: You’re a product of The Pendleton School, which is known for being a bit of an athlete factory. What was it like going to a school where you job is becoming a better baseball player?
JM: I talked to a lot of high school draftees here, and I definitely get a different view of high school than they do.
A lot of guys probably played multiple sports through high school, but I was fortunate enough to go there just play all year long. I think that made the adjustment to pro ball a lot easier, too. It’s just playing every day.
Obviously it’s different when you’re playing games like this every day and traveling, but I think I definitely have an edge on a lot of the high school drafts because of the coaching I had there and playing every day.
JN: Was there a summer or winter break, or was it baseball 24/7?
JM: We had the normal Christmas break and stuff, but as far as baseball goes, we’re practicing every day in the fall and playing every day in the spring.
JN: You call your own game behind the plate. At what point did you learn how to do that?
JM: They want us all to do that. The catching coordinator, Julio Mosquera, he’s pretty big on that, and I know (Yankees manager Joe) Girardi is). That probably stems down from him.
I think as long as you start learning from a young age, I think it’ll help as it grows. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ll second guess myself on pitches all the time, but that’s part of the learning process.