LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves bullpen coach Eddie Perez trumpets his ability to find a diamond in the rough in Spring Training on an annual basis. The longtime Major League catcher did not necessarily go out on a limb when he tabbed Andrelton Simmons, who came to his first big league camp in 2012 and provided clear indication that he was destined to be one of the game's top shortstops.
Perez might have reason to be more proud of the projections he placed on Evan Gattis when the powerful slugger came to his first big league camp in 2012, as a relatively obscure prospect who had just started to gain some attention while playing for Class A Rome the previous summer.
But this year, Perez is truly going out on a limb as he is heralding 20-year-old catcher Tanner Murphy as his player to watch during Spring Training. Given that Murphy has totaled just 82 professional games and not played a single inning above the Rookie Level, he likely will need to wait a few more years to reach the Major League level.
"He's my number one guy so far," Perez said after watching Murphy throw to bases Sunday morning. "It's nice to have somebody like him because you don't know what's going to happen. When you look at this kid, you know something good is going to happen."
As highly-regarded prospect Christian Bethancourt begins his reign as Atlanta's catcher this year, he will not have to concern himself with the possibility that Murphy could threaten his job any time soon.
But Murphy, who celebrated his 20th birthday last week, has definitely made a good first impression on the many coaches who have been getting their first glimpses of him over the past week. The young catcher batted .242 with five homers and a .750 OPS for Rookie Level Danville last year.
"He's got some talent and he's got some ability," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I saw him throw to the bases. (Catching instructor) Joe Breeden has seen him the most and Joe likes him a lot."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.