Goals are something every baseball player has. Climbing the developmental ladder and striving for that next level is tops on every guy’s list. Reading Fightin Phils first baseman Jim Murphy is not unlike all those other players in that regard. What does set him apart, though, is the path he took to arrive in the Double-A Eastern League and the determination he has to never quit.
After five seasons in the Phillies organization, during which he bounced back and forth between Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater, Murphy, who was selected by the Phillies in the 17th round of the 2008 MLB amateur draft out of Washington State University, has, at long last, landed in Reading and does not intend to fall back downward again.
The 27-year-old credits a focused approach every time up to bat for his success in the minors and for being ready to play at the Double-A level this season.
“I try to go out and compete every day, not necessarily worried about stats,” Murphy stated. “I just try to have a quality at bat every time up. If I’m focused on a quality process, the results will be there.
“If I do that and get my work in during practice and in the weight room I feel like I will have a shot at the next level.”
Murphy broke into the professional ranks as a member of the Gulf Coast League Phillies and would play with the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters as well as the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers that year. The following year, he spent the full season with Class A Lakewood, where he was an offensive force (.279 avg, 12 HR, 67 RBI) for a team that won the first of two consecutive South Atlantic League titles.
In 2010, Murphy was back in Clearwater, this time for the full season, but his numbers (.239 avg, six HR, 43 RBI) weren’t as strong as they had been with Lakewood. The next season, it was another full year back with the BlueClaws, where he posted improved stats over his first tour of the SAL (.268 avg, 22 HR, 77 RBI) and became an All-Star. Another run in the Florida State League with Clearwater was on tap for 2012 and there was no trouble at the plate this time around (.274 avg, 17 HR, 85 RBI).
Then comes 2013 and an assignment to play at the Double-A level, where Murphy has long felt he was ready to compete. So far this season, the Seattle native has posted a .345 average with three homers, 13 RBI and a .983 OPS through 15 games with the Fightin’ Phillies.
According to Murphy, the long road to reach Reading isn’t satisfying enough. He wants more.
(“Playing for Reading) is an accomplishment of a goal I’ve had, but it’s also just another step. My end goal is to have a big league career, so now I’m one step closer. It’s exciting to get the opportunity to play at a higher level and I’m thankful for that,” Murphy said.
Such achievements of reaching the majors by players that are considered old, by athlete standards, aren’t unheard of, especially in a Phillies system that saw catcher Chris Coste debut at the highest level of the sport as a 33-year-old in 2006.
Despite hearing chatter for years that his end game on the baseball diamond may be as a coach, Murphy isn’t close to being ready to swap roles and doesn’t intend to give up on his dream..
“I want to play until someone takes the playing jersey away from me,” Murphy asserted. “When that time comes, I will evaluate where I’m at and pursue any opportunities, after playing, that come my way.”
Look for Murphy to continue striving for bigger and better things all season long at Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium.
RHP Colin Kleven, an All-Star in Lakewood last year, was placed on the disabled list for the Clearwater Threshers, citing a lower back issue. He’ll visit with a Phillies team physician early this week to determine the nature and the severity of the problem. The British Columbia native had posted a 0-3 record with a 14.29 ERA through three starts this season.
Clearwater third baseman Maikel Franco is tied for the organizational lead with 21 hits. The 20-year-old is batting .318 with two home runs and 13 RBI in 16 games this year. Franco, a Dominican native, was ranked as the Phils’ 4th best prospect prior to this season.