Phoenix PDP event loaded with Major League ties

Phoenix PDP event loaded with Major League ties

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Kai Murphy has been dreaming of the Major Leagues since he was a little boy.

You can argue that the left-handed pitcher from Mesa High School in Mesa, Arizona, and the son of former Padres manager and current Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy was born to play the game.

"When I was a kid I used to cry every day when my father would leave to the field, but when finally I became old enough to go with him, I just fell in love with the game," said Murphy, who will graduate in 2019 and has committed to play baseball at Oregon State. "I'm just really honored to be here and recognized with some great players that I know and have played against."

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Here is Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Spring Training home of the Arizona D-backs and Colorado Rockies.

Here's why: Murphy was one of 34 high school prospects from Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico invited to participate in Major League Baseball's Prospect Development Pipeline Premier event Tuesday. A joint venture between MLB and USA Baseball created to identify and develop teenage prospects leading up to the 2018 and 2019 Drafts. Tuesday's event is one of 20 PDP events across the nation this year.

"It's definitely a blessing to have a father in baseball and have the guidance and opportunities. I know I am very fortunate. But it's also a personal challenge to accomplish things on my own," Murphy said. "I want to show people I can do things by myself and I continue to work hard."

After a brief introduction, the prospects were given an athletic assessment, tests which included a broad jump, a vertical leap, a 30-yard dash, and agility drills. They also participated in performance vision screening, wood-bat batting practice with a swing analysis, along with infield and outfield practice. The prospects capped the afternoon by splitting into two teams and playing a nine-inning game.

Other prospects with big league ties at the Prospect Development Pipeline Premier even included right-handed pitcher George Arias from Tucson High School in Tucson, Ariz. Arias, who has committed to the University of Arizona, is the son of former Major League infielder George Arias Sr., who played parts of four seasons with the Angels and Padres in the late 1990s. Also participating was left-handed pitcher Boston Mabeus from Henderson, Nev., the son of former Major League right-hander Chris Mabeus.

Matthew Liberatore, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound left-handed pitcher from Mountain Ridge High School in Peoria, Ariz., won't graduate until 2018 and no, he doesn't have any Major League ties, but he's already opened a several eyes. Liberatore, who is committed to the University of Arizona, started the game for the blue team.

Right-handed pitcher Conner Thurman from Red Mountain High School in Mesa, started for the red team. Like Liberatore, he's also committed to the University of Arizona.

"Liberatore is the real deal and what we are looking for," one scout in attendance said. "He has that long and projectible body. There is some potential there. He's one of many guys out here that teams will be keeping an eye on."

Catcher Colton Cassinelli, from Queen Creek High School in San Tan Valley, Ariz., made his presence felt early. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound teenager formally introduced himself to everyone in attendance during batting practice. He later singled off Liberatore in the first inning and stole second base. He was thrown out trying to steal third.

"The ball just sounds different coming off Cassinelli's bat," one scout said. "We heard there was a catcher going to be here and it didn't take long to realize that was him. If he can catch and throw? He's going to be somebody everyone pays attention to."

Cassinelli, who won't graduate until 2018, has committed to the University of Washington.

Add right-handed pitcher Chandler Murphy to the list of Tuesday's standouts heading to the University of Arizona. Considered one of the top prospects in Arizona, Murphy, a junior at Liberty High School in Peoria, has impressed scouts with his size and strength. He's still working on fine-tuning his delivery and is expected to add velocity as he matures.

"To me, my nerves don't really get to me, but I understand how important it is to be here at this event," Chandler Murphy said. "It's exciting to come out there and think about competing against these guys at this level and the next level."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.