A's Top Prospect Ranking: Why Sean Murphy Comes in at No. 3 Overall

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine the top 10 prospects in the A's organization. For each player, we will provide a scouting report and a realistic timetable for reaching the major leagues, as well as what he needs to do to stay there.

No. 3 - Sean Murphy, C

Murphy has long been considered the A's "catcher of the future." Well, the future is now.

Murphy made his highly-anticipated major league debut in September and slashed .245/.333/.566 with four home runs, five doubles, and eight RBI in 20 games. The 25-year-old was even better in 31 Triple-A contests, hitting .308/.386/.625 with 10 homers and 30 RBI.

Oakland originally drafted Murphy in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Scouts have been enamored with his elite defensive skills behind the plate, with MLB Pipeline giving his arm a 70 rating on the 20-80 scale, along with a field rating of 65.

Murphy's offensive production has dramatically increased over the past couple of years, particularly his power-hitting. He launched 15 home runs in 2019 between the majors and minors in just 61 games. His previous career-high -- at any level -- had been 13, and that took him 98 games.

Murphy should continue to improve at the plate, while his defense already is near Gold Glove level. By the end of 2019, he essentially had captured the A's starting catcher job and there's no reason to believe he'll lose that role next season, though he did undergo knee surgery this offseason. Still, he is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.

[RELATED: Why infielder Sheldon Neuse ranks as A's No. 4 prospect]

Oakland has a decision to make with Josh Phegley, who is in his third and final year of arbitration. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $2.2 million next season. If the A's do bring Phegley back, he almost certainly will be Murphy's backup. Oakland could also choose to sign a left-handed catcher in free agency to form a platoon.

Either way, Murphy appears to be the A's starting catcher in 2020 and beyond.

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