How A’s Catching Prospect Sean Murphy Became Major Power-hitting Threat

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Ben Ross

Sean Murphy sure is making this whole Major League Baseball thing look pretty easy.

All the A's rookie catcher has done is launch four home runs in his first 18 major league at-bats, including three in his last two games.

"I (feel) comfortable in the box," Murphy told reporters. "I think hopefully (I) can continue feeling good in the box and seeing pitches well."

In addition to the four homers, Murphy has recorded a pair of singles, scored six runs and notched seven RBI. The 24-year-old is ranked as the A's third-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, but no one could have seen this type of production coming so early in his career.

"You're having to learn a pitching staff," Oakland manager Bob Melvin told reporters. "You're having to learn players in the league with extensive scouting reports these days and he handles it all really well. Obviously, the bat has shown up too. The more he plays, the more comfortable he's going to be and he looks pretty comfortable right now."

Throughout his minor-league career, Murphy's defense actually has been his greatest strength. He has displayed tremendous athleticism and agility behind the plate, not to mention he has a cannon for an arm. Now it appears the offense has caught up.

"(He's) a two-way player," Melvin said. "He catches, he throws, he frames well, he's got power. He's really developed the power the last couple of years. It can be pretty dramatic. To add another guy to our lineup like that and get him comfortable here, he's got a chance to enhance our lineup as well."

Murphy's power has increased rapidly over the last year. In 2018, he hit just eight home runs in 73 minor-league games. This season, Murphy belted 10 in 31 games at Triple-A Las Vegas, plus four in four starts for the A's.

"A couple of mechanical differences, but at the end of the day, it's just seeing more pitches and swinging at the right stuff," he explained. "When you're chasing out of the zone and getting in bad counts, your power numbers suffer. But when you can get in hitter's counts, you're going to do more damage. I think that's been the big key."

[RELATED: A's top prospect Luzardo lives up to hype in MLB debut]

Melvin has noticed some changes Murphy has made to his swing.

"There's a lot of leverage to (his swing). There's a lot of legs that are in play. A couple of years ago, it might not have been as powerful a swing and the velo(city) behind it. But he's worked hard on using his legs a little bit more and getting his bat head through the zone some."

Clearly, the adjustments have paid off.

Murphy has long been considered the A's catcher of the future. It appears that the future is now.

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