‘Murph’ picked up by Colorado Rockies
Truckee baseball coach Mike Ellis was right. It didn’t take long for a major-league club to swoop up his former ace.
J.R. Murphy, a 2002 Truckee High grad and NIAA single-season strikeout record holder, received a call Tuesday afternoon from the Colorado Rockies ” just four days after going undrafted in the Major League Baseball draft.
“They asked if I wanted a chance to keep playing,” said Murphy, 22. “They said, ‘we’ll put you on a plane and get you up here.'”
Just like that, Murphy’s young baseball career were resurrected.
He flies to Seattle on Thursday to join the Tri-City Dust Devils, the Rockies’ Short-Season Class A affiliate of the Northwest League. The Short-Season is for players chosen in the June draft and for those who sign as undrafted free agents, like Murphy. The season begins June 22.
Murphy said he will sign a contract when he arrives in Seattle.
As a senior at San Diego State this past season, Murphy posted a 5-2 record and a 4.52 ERA pitching for Aztecs head coach Tony Gwynn. In 65 2/3 innings, mostly as a starter, he recorded 59 strikeouts while allowing 76 hits and 19 walks.
He ran into bad luck at the end of the season, having to sit out his first start in San Diego State’s conference tournament because of an illness. After receiving IV (intravenous) therapy, Murphy was ready to pitch had the Aztecs played a fourth game. But they were eliminated in Game 3.
Starting for the Corvallis (Ore.) Knights of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League over the summer, Murphy posted a 4-1 record and a 1.35 ERA while striking out 51 and walking 17 in 10 starts and 60 innings. He gave up 37 hits and held opposing batters to a .181 average.
Murphy got off to a slow start his junior year at San Diego State after undergoing surgery on his pitching elbow in December 2006. Coming back from the surgery, he pitched mostly out of the bullpen and finished the season with a 3.32 ERA in 10 appearances and 19 innings of work.
Recruited out of high school by New Mexico, Utah, UNLV, Hawaii, Nevada, San Jose State and Arizona State, Murphy chose Yavapai College in Arizona, where he pitched for two years.
In 49 1/3 innings in seven starts during his freshman year at Yavapai ” which plays in a wood bad league ” Murphy compiled a 6-0 record with one save and two complete games. His earned run average, at 1.83, ranked 12th in the nation. Murphy allowed 32 hits and 10 earned runs while striking out 44 and walking 18. Opposing batters only managed a .186 average against him.
Murphy was a preseason All-American in 2006 and earned honorable mention All-America accolades at the end of the season. He finished the year with a 10-1 record with one save and a 1.71 earned run average. He also struck out 104 batters while walking just 15 in 94 1/3 innings.
To cap Murphy’s experience at Yavapai, the Roughriders played their way into the championship game of the NJCAA World Series, where they lost 7-6 to Walters State College (Tenn.).
Murphy also was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 38th round of the 2005 Major League Baseball draft. But he chose to stay in school.
At Truckee, Murphy dominated his Northern 3A competition.
Murphy, whose jersey number is retired in the outfield of the Truckee High baseball field, played three years of varsity ball for the Wolverines.
He earned first-team All-State honors as a pitcher his junior and a senior years and became the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) single-season strikeout record holder, with 139.