Month: November 2017

A’s In The AFL – November 6-11 Update

A’s AFL Prospect Of The Week: C Sean Murphy

A’s AFL Prospect Of The Week: C Sean Murphy

 
A’s Prospect AFL Highlights
(November 6 – 11)

Monday, November 6th:
Catcher Sean Murphy went 0 for 2 with 2 walks, while left fielder Jaycob Brugman went 0 for 3 with 2 walks and a stolen base. Third baseman Sheldon Neuse went 0 for 3 with a walk, and RHP Nolan Blackwood struck out 3 in 1 scoreless inning of relief to earn the save in Mesa’s 5-2 win on Monday.

Tuesday, November 7th:
Third baseman Sheldon Neuse went 2 for 4 with a double and drove in 2 runs, while left fielder Jaycob Brugman went 0 for 1 with a walk, and RHP Miguel Romero threw 1 scoreless inning of relief in Mesa’s 5-1 win on Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 8th:
No games scheduled.

Thursday, November 9th:
Designated hitter Jaycob Brugman went 2 for 6 with a double, while catcher Sean Murphy went 2 for 4 with 2 walks, and RHP Sam Bragg allowed 2 runs, 1 earned, in 1 inning of relief to suffer the loss as Mesa lost 5-4 in 10 innings on Thursday.

Friday, November 10th:
RHP Logan Shore made the start and allowed 1 run in 4 innings of work, while RHP Nolan Blackwood pitched 2 perfect innings in relief, and third baseman Sheldon Neuse went 1 for 5 in Mesa’s 3-3 tie on Friday.

Saturday, November 11th:
Catcher Sean Murphy went 3 for 5 with a double and drove in 2 runs, while third baseman Sheldon Neuse went 2 for 5 and drove in 2 runs, and left fielder Jaycob Brugman went 2 for 6 with a double and drove in a run. RHP Miguel Romero tossed 1 scoreless inning in relief to earn the win as Mesa won 16-2 on Saturday.

Sunday, November 12th:
No games scheduled.

 

A’s Prospect AFL Stats
(October 10 – November 11)

Sheldon Neuse (3B-SS)
73 AB / 4 HR / 7 BB / 14 K / .288 AVG / .350 OBP / .534 SLG / .884 OPS

Sean Murphy (C)
60 AB / 0 HR / 10 BB / 6 K / .317 AVG / .431 OBP / .383 SLG / .814 OPS

Jaycob Brugman (OF)
21 AB / 0 HR / 7 BB / 4 K / .190 AVG / .393 OBP / .286 SLG / .679 OPS

Tyler Ramirez (OF)
17 AB / 1 HR / 3 BB / 6 K / .059 AVG / .200 OBP / .235 SLG / .435 OPS

Logan Shore (RHP)
20 IP / 30 H / 12 ER / 2 BB / 13 K / 5.40 ERA / 1.60 WHIP

Nolan Blackwood (RHP)
10 1/3 IP / 6 H / 2 ER / 3 BB / 16 K / 1.74 ERA / 0.87 WHIP

Miguel Romero (RHP)
8 2/3 IP / 16 H / 8 ER / 3 BB / 6 K / 8.31 ERA / 2.19 WHIP

Sam Bragg (RHP)
7 IP / 11 H / 5 ER / 0 BB / 5 K / 6.43 ERA / 1.57 WHIP

*          *          *

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A’s Prospects Shore & Brugman on Life in the AFL

by Nick Badders / A’s Farm Arizona Correspondent

00aflafl_striahgt_logo_4vdwdld9_cg5m3bavAfter catching up with A’s prospects Sheldon Neuse and Sean Murphy last week, A’s Farm took the opportunity to check in with a couple more of Oakland’s young stars in the Arizona Fall League this week: RHP Logan Shore and outfielder Jaycob Brugman.

The 22-year-old Shore was a highly-coveted college pitcher whom the A’s selected with their 2nd-round pick in last year’s draft, while the 25-year-old Brugman was the A’s 17th-round selection back in 2013.

Shore spent most of this past season honing his craft with Stockton in the High-A California League, while a hot start for Triple-A Nashville earned Brugman a promotion to Oakland, where he made his big league debut last June.

So far, Shore has made four starts for Mesa in the Arizona Fall League, while Brugman was only recently added to the Solar Sox roster after outfielder Tyler Ramirez was sidelined by a back injury.

 

LOGAN SHORE

ls624519bAfter making his pro debut with short-season Vermont in 2016, Shore kicked off the 2017 season with High-A Stockton. He allowed just one earned run or less in six of his first nine appearances for the Ports before landing on the disabled list in May with a lat strain. After a brief rehab stint in the Arizona League, Shore returned to Stockton in July, where he posted a 4.97 ERA over his final eight appearances for the Ports.

AF:  What have your impressions been of the Arizona Fall League so far?

LS:  It’s been good. It’s been challenging, which I knew coming in, being able to pitch against guys who are going to be in the big leagues in the next year or next couple years. It’s been a really good experience for me, and I know for all the other guys – Nolan [Blackwood], just talking with him, and [Sam] Bragg. And it’s hard. It’s a hard league to pitch in. It’s been fun though.

AF:  You mentioned a few guys you’ve played with. There are also a lot of players you have not previously played alongside. How is it playing with such a mix?

LS:  It’s cool. Even a lot of the guys…I played against in college, whether it be a couple of guys [who] went to Vanderbilt or Riley Ferrell was at TCU. And so these guys, the guys that I’ve heard of and I’ve seen play…it’s kind of cool to connect names to faces, and it’s been a lot of fun.

AF:  Another familiar face, Steve Connelly, is your pitching coach here. How beneficial has it been, having worked with him this past season in Stockton?

LS:  Yeah, he was my pitching coach all year. So, anytime you get someone who kind of knows you and knows my routine and how my pitches work and all that kind of stuff, it helps. If I don’t feel right, I can go to him and he can kind of tell me what he sees.

AF:  I talked with catcher Sean Murphy a while back and he mentioned that he was impressed by you. What has impressed you about him in his approach, and how have you learned from him as a catcher?

LS:  He just knows the game. It’s nice having a catcher you can trust and know that he…kind of sees hitters’ tendencies. And I can trust what he’s doing with calling pitches and that kind of stuff. Even with two strikes, if I want to be throwing a breaking ball or something and there’s a runner on third, I know one-hundred percent he’s going to block it and have no worries if I throw a ball in the dirt or anything like that. He’s as solid as they come. It’s been fun having him catch me in the beginning of the year and then obviously out here and all through the next few years.

AF:  Another guy I want to ask you about is A.J. Puk. You played together for three years at Florida and now you’re coming up through the A’s system together after being drafted almost next to each other last year. What’s your relationship like with him going back to college and looking at where you are now?

LS:  We were roommates all three years at school, starting freshman year in the dorms all the way through our junior year. We always joked about getting drafted by the same team and obviously never thought that was even a possibility. You know, the chances of that happening are so slim. Obviously, it happened and it’s been fun. We’re best friends. And he’s somebody that I look up to, just because he’s successful and he’s got a really, really long and big career ahead of him. So, it’s fun to have that friendship and push each other to get better.

AF:  What was your reaction when you found out that he was drafted and then, shortly thereafter, you found out that you were drafted by the same team?

LS:  It was weird. He was supposed to go at one. Then some things kind of happened and he fell to the A’s at six. Forty picks later, I find out I’m going to the A’s, and it was a really cool moment.

AF:  You two were drafted in 2016, so you haven’t been in the organization that long. What have been your impressions of how the organization has helped you grow and develop as a pitcher?

LS:  Just kind of learning who you are. I mean, you kind of learn who you are in college, but pitching in college and pitching in pro ball is a little bit different in my opinion. Having to go out there every five days, compared to every seven, playing 140 games instead of 75 or 80, it’s just a different ball game. You kind of have to learn who you are as a person, who you are in the weight room, that kind of stuff. It changes so much. So, the first year, this year, was really a big learning experience for me, figuring out what I need to do to put myself in the best possible situation every fifth day to be successful. It’s been going well.

AF:  You were pitching pretty well before your injury this year. Was it hard to get back into that groove on the mound after returning from the disabled list?

LS:  Yeah, it took a little bit. I mean obviously pitching out in the AZL [Arizona League] is a lot different than throwing in High-A or even in Low-A. It took me a couple of outings. I felt really good in the AZL and it was fine. And then when I went back to Stockton, I got hit around a little bit the first couple of games back. Overall, anytime you go through failures like that, it’s a good learning experience and you get stronger from that.

AF:  Outside of the talent level, what kind of differences have you noticed between the AZL, Stockton and now the Arizona Fall League?

LS:  Yeah, I mean, big jump in talent from AZL to Stockton. I would say from Stockton to here, it’s just the three or four top hitters in High-A are pretty much every hitter out here, which is fun. You’ve really got to lock in and really got to think ahead and be prepared.

AF:  There’s just a couple of weeks now left in the AFL season, so what are your plans for the offseason?

LS:  You know, just hang out with my family and friends and get some good work in and get ready for spring training in 2018. Obviously, being out here playing this long, through the middle of November, maybe take a week or so off and then start right back up working out and that kind of stuff.

AF:  Do you have any plans or goals for 2018? Any specific things you want to accomplish before spring training?

LS:  I mean, really just work on the things that I feel body-wise to put myself in the best possible situation to stay healthy next year. I mean, some things, obviously, I’m sticking with that I learned during the rehab process in the two months I was back in Arizona. Just kind of hone in on those things and whatever happens, happens next year, and just keep working hard.

2017 (Stockton): 72.2 IP / 81 H / 33 ER / 16 BB / 74 K / 4.09 ERA / 1.33 WHIP

2017 (AZL A’s): 8 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 13 K / 0.00 ERA / 0.25 WHIP

2017 (Total): 80.2 IP / 83 H / 33 ER / 16 BB / 87 K / 3.68 ERA / 1.23 WHIP

AFL: 16 IP / 24 H / 11 ER / 2 BB / 11 K / 6.19 ERA / 1.63 WHIP

 

JAYCOB BRUGMAN

jb595144bAn Arizona native, Brugman began the 2017 season with Triple-A Nashville. After posting a .307 batting average for Nashville in May, he soon earned a call up to Oakland, where he batted .266 over 48 games with the A’s. Shortly after the club acquired outfielder Boog Powell from the Mariners in August, Brugman was sent back to Nashville, where he ended up finishing the season on the disabled list. A back injury to outfielder Tyler Ramirez in the AFL recently opened a roster spot for Brugman on the Mesa Solar Sox squad, and he’s gotten into just four games so far in Arizona.

AF:  You haven’t been down here in the Arizona Fall League that long. So, how did it come about that you ended up in the AFL?

JB:  I was looking for a winter ball team, and one of the players [Tyler Ramirez] got hurt and the organization reached out to me and said, “Hey, it might be a good idea to play some games in the fall league if you’re looking for extra ABs,” because I got hurt in the season. So, I was like, “Sure, that sounds like fun.”

AF:  You were with the Solar Sox in 2015. So, how does it feel to be back? Have you noticed any differences or similarities?

JB:  It’s all the same. It’s pretty fun. I really liked it when I came in ’15. I like getting to know new players from different organizations, so that was a cool thing.

AF:  What is that like, playing with guys you haven’t played with before?

JB:  I’ve only played with one of the A’s guys before, so it’s fun to get to know other people. It really builds the networking throughout your career. Later down the road, you see someone you played with and it’s an instant connection.

AF:  Is there anything you are trying to work on or anything the organization wants you to try to work on in your few weeks here?

JB:  I’m trying to work on certain little things for my game here and there personally. Nothing specific from the organization, but I’m always trying to get better. And I know what I need to do to try and work on it now.

AF:  I want to take you back to this past season. Did you have an expectation of potentially getting called up to the big leagues?

JB:  I was hopeful. I went into it with the attitude of “I’m going to make them call me up.” That’s what you kind of have to do. It was good. I was fortunate enough to get called up and make my debut, and it was pretty awesome.

AF:  How’d you react when you found out you were being called up?

JB:  I was…just a lot of emotions. It was really fun. I was excited that the team in Nashville, the coaching staff – I’ve been with them for a few years – I was excited to have them experience it with me. So, that was fun.

AF:  Your manager in Nashville, Ryan Christenson, who’s sort of come up with you through the organization – Stockton, Midland, Nashville – will be the bench coach in Oakland next year. What kind of an impact has he had on you?

Jaycob Brugman (photo: Nick Badders)

Jaycob Brugman
(photo: Nick Badders)

JB:  Oh, huge. I’m really comfortable around him and I know I can ask him anything. He knows so much about the game. I’m constantly just asking him questions and we’re just talking baseball and that’s what he loves to do. He loves talking baseball, and that’s why he’s such a good coach, because he’s personable and loves baseball. It’s going to be a fun time up there. Hopefully I can get up there again this next year and be able to play with him on the bench.

AF:  What was the biggest takeaway or most valuable thing you learned in the big leagues?

JB:  Just how everything is amplified up there. Focus, all the little things, fundamentals. Doing it the right way and be professional. A lot of times in the minor leagues, you get lost in the small towns and the no-one-really-watching-you kind of thing. So, I just probably learned to go about my business in a better way and be a little more professional and kind of grow up a little, you know? Little bigger stage.

AF:  What were your impressions of the big league coaching staff?

JB:  They’re all great. I really liked them. Unfortunately, [Mark] Kotsay, the bench coach, he had to leave – you know the incident with his daughter. But he was great. Scar [Steve Scarsone] was his replacement. It was just a good group and all the guys, [Bob] Melvin and Chip Hale, it was really fun playing for them. Any big league coach will have an impact on you because they’ve been around so long and they’ve got so much to give.

AF:  You’ve played all three outfield positions throughout your career. Is there somewhere you feel most comfortable?

JB:  I like center field. I feel a little more comfortable out there. It’s where you play the most every day that you get comfortable with. So, whether I’m playing left every day, it’d be left, or right. I like them all, it’s just a fun time for sure.

AF:  Now you only have a couple of weeks left in the AFL season and then you’re off for the winter before spring training starts. Do you have any plans for the winter or anything you want to work on before spring training gets underway?

JB:  Yeah, I mean, I’m just going to work on different tweaks that I’ve made to my swing, things like that. But really just trying to rest the body and get it ready and as strong as I can get and come into spring training ready.

AF:  Outside of making it back to the Coliseum, do you have any goals or plans for 2018?

JB:  Just play as hard as I can and try to force their hand almost and not let them send me down – make the club and try and put pressure on them for me to be there. Just play my game and keep doing what I know I can do and have confidence and force their hand a little.

2017 (Nashville): 1 HR / 19 BB / 28 K / .275 AVG / .355 OBP / .340 SLG / .695 OPS

2017 (Oakland): 3 HR / 18 BB / 38 K / .266 AVG / .346 OBP / .343 SLG / .688 OPS

AFL: 0 HR / 7 BB / 2 K / .000 AVG / .438 OBP / .000 SLG / .438 OPS

*          *          *

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s In The AFL – October 30-November 4 Update

A’s AFL Prospect Of The Week: IF Sheldon Neuse

A’s AFL Prospect Of The Week: IF Sheldon Neuse

 
A’s Prospect AFL Highlights
(October 30 – November 4)

Monday, October 30th:
Shortstop Sheldon Neuse went 1 for 4 with a 3-run homer, and catcher Sean Murphy went 0 for 5, while RHP Miguel Romero threw 1 scoreless inning in relief, and RHP Nolan Blackwood allowed 2 runs in 1 inning as Mesa won 8-4 on Monday.

Tuesday, October 31st:
RHP Sam Bragg allowed 1 run in 1 inning of relief as Mesa lost to Salt River 8-2 on Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 1st:
Designated hitter Sean Murphy went 1 for 4 with a walk and drove in a run, while right fielder Jaycob Brugman went 0 for 2 with 3 walks in Mesa’s 8-5 win on Wednesday.

Thursday, November 2nd:
Designated hitter Sheldon Neuse went 1 for 4 with a walk and hit a game-winning 2-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning, while catcher Sean Murphy went 1 for 4. RHP Logan Shore allowed 4 runs in 4 innings of work, while RHP Miguel Romero threw 1 scoreless inning in relief, and RHP Nolan Blackwood tossed 2 scoreless innings to earn the win as Mesa won 8-6 on Thursday.

Friday, November 3rd:
Designated hitter Jaycob Brugman went 0 for 3 with a walk, while third baseman Sheldon Neuse went 0 for 2, and RHP Sam Bragg allowed 1 run in 1 inning of relief as Mesa was shut out 3-0 on Friday.

Saturday, November 4th:
Third baseman Sheldon Neuse went 1 for 2 and drove in a run for the AFL East Fall Stars as the AFL East beat the AFL West 4-2 in the AFL Fall Stars Game on Saturday.

Sunday, November 5th:
No games scheduled.

 

A’s Prospect AFL Stats
(October 10 – November 4)

Sheldon Neuse (3B-SS)
56 AB / 4 HR / 6 BB / 12 K / .286 AVG / .355 OBP / .589 SLG / .944 OPS

Sean Murphy (C)
49 AB / 0 HR / 6 BB / 5 K / .286 AVG / .386 OBP / .347 SLG / .733 OPS

Tyler Ramirez (OF)
17 AB / 1 HR / 3 BB / 6 K / .059 AVG / .200 OBP / .235 SLG / .435 OPS

Jaycob Brugman
5 AB / 0 HR / 4 BB / 2 K / .000 AVG / .444 OBP / .000 SLG / .444 OPS

Logan Shore (RHP)
16 IP / 24 H / 11 ER / 2 BB / 11 K / 6.19 ERA / 1.63 WHIP

Miguel Romero (RHP)
6 2/3 IP / 15 H / 8 ER / 3 BB / 5 K / 10.80 ERA / 2.70 WHIP

Nolan Blackwood (RHP)
7 1/3 IP / 6 H / 2 ER / 2 BB / 10 K / 2.45 ERA / 1.09 WHIP

Sam Bragg (RHP)
6 IP / 9 H / 4 ER / 0 BB / 3 K / 6.00 ERA / 1.50 WHIP

*          *          *

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s Prospects Neuse & Murphy Take on the AFL

by Nick Badders / A’s Farm Arizona Correspondent

00aflafl_striahgt_logo_4vdwdld9_cg5m3bavWith the Arizona Fall League now about halfway through its schedule, A’s Farm took the opportunity last weekend to check in with a couple of the A’s top young prospects in the AFL.

22-year-old infielder Sheldon Neuse and 23-year-old catcher Sean Murphy were both top picks in last year’s draft. Neuse was Washington’s 2nd-round selection, while Murphy was the A’s 3rd-round pick.

Both players performed well this season while spending time with both High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. And they’ve both continued their strong performances for the Mesa Solar Sox this fall in the AFL.

 

SHELDON NEUSE

sn641914bTraded from Washington to the A’s last July in the Ryan Madson/Sean Doolittle deal, Neuse started out the year at Class-A Hagerstown in the Nationals system. But he was bumped up to High-A Stockton upon joining the A’s organization, where he hit .386 with seven home runs in just 22 games. The infielder was then promoted to the Double-A Midland RockHounds for the last few weeks of the season and was part of their Texas League championship-winning team.

AF:  How much have you enjoyed having the chance to play in the Arizona Fall League?

SN:  It’s been fun – great atmosphere, good group of guys. We like to come out and compete and have fun at the same. It’s a good group and I’ve enjoyed being here.

AF:  You’re playing with some guys you played with in Midland. Is it nice being able to play with them a little longer since you’re new to the organization?

SN:  It’s nice, coming in to a new system halfway through the year and meeting a bunch of people. I wasn’t in Stockton very long. Got thrown right into a playoff run there in Midland, went a long ways, got to hang out with those guys a little bit longer. Then playing with some more here, you get familiarized with those guys, and it’s been fun. It’s been fun to hang around them – good ballplayers, good people.

AF:  What was your initial experience like in Stockton and Midland?

SN:  Just a different atmosphere. You’ve got better pitching, so you’ve really got to be on your game. You can’t take any at-bats off, ever. But even more so there, you’ve got to be locked in the whole time. I’d say the biggest difference is trying to stay within yourself, trying to trust the process.

AF:  Is there anything you’ve tried to work on in the AFL so far?

SN:  Just getting consistent, making sure I’m getting my best swing off, as much as I can. Battling with two strikes, trying to cut down on some of the strikeouts. And coming out and playing and just playing the best baseball I can.

AF:  You’ve spent time at third base and shortstop in your pro career, which position do you prefer?

SN:  Hitter.

AF:  Is there another position you’ve played outside of those two, either in high school or college? I know you pitched for a while before being drafted.

SN:  I can play anywhere, anywhere on the field. Anywhere they want to put me, I’m going to be comfortable there. I just want an opportunity to hit. So right now, just giving myself to play anywhere, showing that I can play anywhere in the infield, outfield, wherever they want me, just giving myself a chance to get in the lineup every day.

AF:  What was your reaction when you found out you had been traded?

SN:  I was excited. It was a new opportunity, a new door to go through. I can’t thank the Nationals enough for giving me a chance to play professionally and then the interest from the A’s. I left a bunch of good guys over there I still stay in contact with friends-wise, and a couple of those guys are on the team here. But just going into a new organization, it was a whole new opportunity. I took it with open arms and open mindset, and it’s been great.

AF:  It seems like you kicked things up a notch after the trade. You hit .380 combined at Stockton and Midland. Did you change anything or did the change of scenery help?

SN:  I think I just got hot, hot at the right time. I figured some things out, was able to get comfortable back in the box, stay confident and rode that wave last year.

AF:  You have played at four different levels since being drafted last year. How has the rapid rise been for you?

SN:  It’s been awesome – climbing that ladder, you know, chasing your dream. It’s happening a lot faster than I expected it to and just never stop working. This year is almost done. Wrap it up, stay healthy and finish the fall league strong. Then looking forward to next year.

AF:  What kind of differences did you see between the California and Texas Leagues?

SN:  Just pitching. You’re not going to get as many pitches to drive [in the Texas League]. You’re not going to get that many pitches over the plate. At different levels, guys can command. You’re going to get more off-speed pitches in hitters’ counts and better stuff, so you’ve got to be quick to the ball. And you’ve got to trust the work you put in to go out there and just play the game. See and react versus kind of work on stuff – you can’t do that at the next level because they’re going to eat you up. You’ve got to minimize your holes and maximize on opportunities and you get something to drive.

AF:  It seemed like the only change for you between Stockton and Midland was in your power numbers. Would you just chalk that up to a small sample size, playing just 18 games in Double-A, the California League being good for home runs, or Midland and the Texas League being brutal on power?

SN:  The ball flew better in California. You’ve got better pitching up there too in Double-A. And Midland, it’s a bigger ballpark. It’s going to play bigger, it’s going to be harder to hit those balls out. It’s the same process the whole time, the same mindset – just going in and looking for a pitch I can drive in the gap. If it goes out, it goes out. If not, I did my job. I drove the baseball, and that’s all I can do as a hitter.

AF:  What are your offseason plans?

SN:  Just enjoy some time off at first, spend some time with my family. And looking forward to getting back to work. I’ll probably work out normal come January and the new year and get ready for hopefully big league spring training.

AF:  Is there anything you’re going to try to work on when you do start working out again?

SN:  Just trying to pick up where I left off here. Staying confident and trying to stay consistent. Keep the swing that I have and try to get it more consistent if I can, to the point where it’s the same all the time. And try and go into spring training healthy as always, stay healthy the whole time and just make a good impression there.

2017 (Hagerstown): 9 HR / 25 BB / 66 K / .291 AVG / .349 OBP / .469 SLG / .818 OPS

2017 (Stockton): 7 HR / 9 BB / 25 K / .386 AVG / .457 OBP / .675 SLG / 1.132 OPS

2017 (Midland): 0 HR / 6 BB / 21 K / .373 AVG / .427 OBP / .433 SLG / .860 OPS

2017 (Total): 16 HR / 40 BB / 112 K / .321 AVG / .382 OBP / .502 SLG / .884 OPS

AFL: 3 HR / 5 BB / 12 K / .300 AVG / .364 OBP / .580 SLG / .944 OPS

 

SEAN MURPHY

sm669221bThe strong-armed backstop was drafted by Oakland in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft and has risen quickly, finishing the 2017 season with the Double-A Midland RockHounds after starting the year at High-A Stockton. Just before we spoke to him after last Saturday’s game, Murphy drove an RBI single to left field in the bottom of the 8th inning to tie the game and help Mesa come back from a 6-2 deficit to post a 9-6 win over Glendale.

AF:  How has the Arizona Fall League experience been for you, playing with guys from different teams you’ve never played with before?

SM:  It’s just fun, meeting new guys, playing baseball. Meeting some different personalities is always nice.

AF:  You’re playing with some guys you played with last season – Sheldon Neuse, Sam Bragg, Nolan Blackwood. How nice has that been to have familiar faces around?

SM:  Obviously, to have some familiarity with some guys helps. But as you get closer to the team, you gel with other guys. It’s just nice having friends here.

AF:  What are some of the differences you found between hitting at Stockton and hitting in Midland?

SM:  Well, the Cal League is a hitter’s league for sure. The ball flies there. Then you get to Midland and that’s a graveyard, every part of the park. That’s an adjustment, understanding I’m not going to hit any cheap home runs out there.

AF:  You were just drafted last year, then you ended this season in Double-A. How have you felt about such a quick rise?

SM:  I’m just going with it. You don’t want to look ahead and try and see where you want to be in a year. It doesn’t do you any good trying to make projections like that in your head. You just play every day. It doesn’t do you any good to think about that kind of stuff.

AF:  As a catcher, were there any pitchers you worked with this season who impressed you with their approach?

Sean Murphy (photo: Nick Badders)

Sean Murphy
(photo: Nick Badders)

SM:  Obviously, A.J. [Puk]. He’s growing every day. It’s cool to watch him develop and grow and change as a pitcher, become more of a big-league style pitcher. Logan [Shore], Daulton [Jefferies], Brett Graves, all good. Sam Bragg is a bulldog out of the bullpen. I like all those guys.

AF:  You were drafted as a catcher who was known for your outstanding defense. What have you done since you were drafted to work on your hitting?

SM:  Well, I’ve done a lot of stuff. Some of it didn’t work, some of it did. Biggest difference is obviously the mental game, having a better approach, understanding the head space I want to be in while I’m at the plate.

AF:  Is there anything you’re trying to work on in the AFL?

SM:  Continuing. I’m not trying to get overwhelmed, not trying to think about other stuff. Again, it’s such a mental game that every great adjustment starts in your own head. It’s not a “mechanical this, mechanical that.” You’ve got to understand where you are in space and what your brain is doing.

AF:  What are your offseason plans? Are you going anywhere, trying to focus on anything?

SM:  No plans right now. Spend some time with loved ones, get some rest, start back up. Physically working on some baseball skills, some weightlifting, eat well. That’s about it.

AF:  Take me through your at-bat in the 8th inning today. First-pitch swinging, what were you looking for?

SM:  There, I was looking for a fastball. You have the bases loaded. If he threw a slider, I was just going to take it. But it’s just guessing he’s going to throw a fastball. I was just going to try and hit it on a line somewhere. Hit it off the end a little bit, but the swing I put on it was good enough and it worked for a single.

2017 (Stockton): 9 HR / 11 BB / 33 K / .297 AVG / .343 OBP / .527 SLG / .870 OPS

2017 (Midland): 4 HR / 21 BB / 34 K / .209 AVG / .288 OBP / .309 SLG / .597 OPS

2017 (Total): 13 HR / 32 BB / 67 K / .250 AVG / .313 OBP / .410   SLG / .723 OPS

AFL: 0 HR / 6 BB / 5 K / .289 AVG / .396 OBP / .356 SLG / .752 OPS

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