Murphy makes impression on A's with arm

Oakland catcher making most of time in camp

Murphy makes impression on A's with arm

MESA, Ariz. -- Sean Murphy, the walk-on Wright State University catcher who blossomed into the A's third-round Draft pick, has a standout arm that's drawing attention in big league camp.

"The kid can throw," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's special. We heard that coming in, but to actually see him throw to bases, it's one of those where you tell the infielder, 'If the ball looks low, give it a chance, because it's carrying,' and he threw some balls that looked like they might not make it but had that carry on them. It's an electric arm for sure."

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Melvin equated Murphy's arm to being "like Chapman behind the plate," referring to another big-name A's prospect: third baseman Matt Chapman, who has been said to have the strongest arm in the Minors.

Murphy's, meanwhile, was believed to be the best of the 2016 Draft class among backstops. The A's snagged him with the 83rd overall pick and didn't shy away from offering him an invite to big league camp. Of the six catchers in camp, Murphy is the only one without Major League service time.

"My goal is to learn from some of these other guys and take any wisdom and advice they offer," Murphy said. "Just being able to watch them and how disciplined they are, it's cool, and I hope to take some of that away. I know at some point I'll be back down at Minor League camp again, and I just want to be able to use some of that stuff down there."

The 22-year-old Murphy can't remember how many times he heard it. "You're too small to play here," college coaches would tell the prep catcher, whose 5-foot-10 frame weighed 150 pounds. But his dad, who stands 6-foot-4, was sure that would change.

"He always told me it would happen," Murphy said, "and it did."

Murphy, who was prepared to play at a junior college before Wright State approached him about a preferred walk-on opportunity, added four inches and 70 pounds in college, developing into a complete defensive catcher. His bat is considered average, albeit with power potential.

"I guess I surprised myself a little bit, but I always knew I had the skills and fundamentals and knowledge to do this, I just didn't have the physical build yet," Murphy said. "I was just waiting to grow."

"He's still young," Melvin said, "but I know as an organization we're excited about him."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.