Third Baseman Taylor Murphy Adapting to New Surroundings

If there’s one thing the Indians have an abundance of, it’s outfielders. Fans know it, big league players seem to have taken notice, and 22 year-old Taylor Murphy knew it.

Murphy played in the outfield last year for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, and spent much of his collegiate career in the outfield, as well. He didn’t do poorly in the outfield, either. In 46 games last season, Murphy committed just three errors with 74 putouts. However, he knew that even a good performance in the outfield might not be enough to keep him with an organization that already had a logjam of outfielders, including some who have the potential to be flat-out excellent.

“An opportunity presented itself at the end of last year at the Instructional League in Arizona,” Murphy said. “I ended up following through with it this offseason at the strength and conditioning camp in January at the facility in Arizona and carried it through. Now, here we are, working at it every day.”

Such began Murphy’s career as the Lake County Captains’ third baseman. He’s struggled slightly defensively since the move, though it’s to be expected from a player who has spent much of his pro career a bit farther back in the field. Murphy has nine errors this season at third and has not yet turned any double plays. It feels a little like watching Lonnie Chisenhall at third base for the Indians last year, though not nearly as worrisome given Murphy’s age and level in the organization. Like anyone trying something new, the greatest teacher will undoubtedly be time for the new infielder.

And time will likely be given, as Murphy’s bat is not something the organization should seek to part with any time soon. Murphy is currently hitting .261 with 29 hits, five doubles, and four home runs with the Captains this season. He trails teammates Claudio Bautista and Yu-Cheng Chang in average and his slugging percentage of .414 and OPS of .740 trails only that of Bobby Bradley (.542 and .925). He hit .262 in Mahoning Valley last year with a .730 OPS.

On the field, Murphy is a serious player who devotes his attention to the game at hand. He said he understands there is always a time for work and for play on the field but, more often than not, his approach on the field is all business.

“Since day one I wanted to be known as a professional,” Murphy said. “To make good decisions and to play hard.”

Off the field, Murphy is much less intense, and enjoys fishing in the Cleveland area on the few off-days the Captains have.

Growing up in San Diego, Murphy spent much of his time outside. He surfed every day was was a surf PE in high school, though he had to put that past time on hold during baseball season. “It’s too cold [to surf in Cleveland],” Murphy joked.

A graduate of Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, Murphy was originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th Round of the 2011 draft. While there was a strong temptation to turn down his college scholarship and embark on the professional baseball journey with a hometown team, Murphy said his decision wasn’t actually that difficult to make.

“I was always going to school,” Murphy said.

That is, if his mother could be persuaded.

Murphy was offered a scholarship and opportunity to play baseball at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, which Forbes ranked at the eighth most miserable city in the United States in 2012. Stockton was also ranked the tenth most dangerous city in the country and the second-most dangerous in California, behind Oakland, in a 2012 report from Yahoo! Finance. Murphy said going to school in such as area didn’t bother him as much as it did his mom.

“To move away to Stockon was fine for me because I wanted to play baseball,” Murphy said. “It took some selling from the athletic director to my mother to let me go there. But it all happened for a reason, and I’m better for it.”

Murphy majored in business and said he’d possibly be following in his father’s footsteps had baseball not worked out for him.

“I love what my dad does; I would love to go into the hospitality industry,” Murphy said. “He works in hotels. That would be a great option.”

However, Murphy also knew that his top goal was to play professional ball.

“Baseball has always been the number one choice,” Murphy said. “I wanted to give it everything I had and see where the chips fell.”

In his career at Pacific, Murphy hit .260 with seven home runs, nine triples, 17 doubles, and 125 hits. He stole 11 bases and committed nine total errors. His performance was enough to catch the eye of the Cleveland Indians last season, who drafted Murphy in the 18th round of the 2014 Amateur Draft. Murphy signed with the Indians following his junior year at Pacific and hasn’t looked back.

“We have great teammates here,” Murphy said of his 2015 teammates in Eastlake. “Everyone is picking each other up. You root for the guy next to you. There’s no bad blood; that’s our strongest point.”

Photo: Tim Phillis/TCP Photography

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