Development is the name of the game in the minor leagues, and no player knows that better than left-handed pitcher Griffin Murphy, who has made many transformations to his delivery and mindset over the past two seasons.
The young lefty began string lining his pitching at the tail end of the 2013 season. This transition gave Murphy the ability to make a more direct move towards the plate and throw in lines. The transition worked out well in 2013, as Murphy posted a 1-3 record and a 4.18 ERA in 71 innings pitched.
Entering the 2014 season with hopes of a promotion didn’t happen right out of spring training, as the organization felt a little more time in the Midwest League with mentoring from pitching coach Vince Horsman was the best fit for Murphy.
Taking the re-assignment in stride, Murphy came in to Lansing and was lights out throughout the first half of the season. Pitching 36 innings for the Lugnuts; Murphy posted a 2-2 record, a 2.00 ERA, 47 strikeouts, and 16 saves.
“Returning to Lansing wasn’t expected, but I realized I still had things I needed to work on,” stated Murphy. “Vince and I discussed what I needed to work on and it was something that was good for me since I took advantage of the opportunity.”
“You can’t beat working with Vince a second time. He’s the best pitching coach I ever had,” he added. “Vince is arguably the best pitching coach in our organization and that’s why every pitcher in our organization gets sent through Lansing.”
Murphy led the team in saves, and was the Lugnuts’ lone pitching representative in the Midwest League All-Star Game. Pitching 2/3 an inning for the East squad, Murphy picked up a strikeout while allowing no hits in his first all-star appearance.
Earning a quick promotion to the Florida State League after his all-star appearance, Murphy pitched well in his first month in Dunedin. Going 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA and nine strikeouts in the month of July, as Murphy was having one of the best seasons of his professional career.
The better numbers came about due to Murphy’s new image, as he lost some weight in the 2013 off-season, as well as changing his pitching mindset on the mound. Heading to the mound with a bulldog mentality, the young prospect was attacking the strike zone a lot more in 2014.
“This past off-season I worked on my weight. I lost 22 pounds, it was something I needed to do for me,” explained Murphy. “I also did my running and all the drills that pitchers go through. From a pitching standpoint I focused on my fastball command, that’s a big thing for me. I figured out I can throw 90 mph with sink and that’s okay. I don’t feel like I have to throw 94 or anything like that. My slider was a big pitch for me last year and I feel it needed to be again this year as well.”
“Yeah I go out there and attack the strike zone early to get ahead of hitters,” he added. “When you approach the game that way it gives you a lot of confidence. When you come in as a reliever at any point in the game you have to speed up the pace and that all begins with throwing strikes.”
Facing his first taste of adversity in the month of August, allowing 12 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings of work; even though Murphy would like to forget that month, he still had one of his best professional seasons to date. He went 4-3 with a 3.47 ERA, 62 strikeouts, and 16 saves in 57 innings of work between the two levels.
Murphy’s new attitude on the mound worked out well in 2014, as he lowered his opponent batting average from .287 to .245 and his WHIP from 1.81 to 1.35 between the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The better numbers caught the eye of Lansing Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman, who has worked with Murphy the past two seasons and is happy with the progress the former 2nd round pick has made from the beginning of 2013 to the end of 2014.
“Griffin came in and threw strikes this year. He struggled with his command a bit in 2013,” stated Horsman. “Griffin reaped the benefits of better command this season. It’s great seeing him getting better.”
Be sure to keep your eye on Griffin Murphy as he continues to develop his game more with hopes of earning another promotion during the 2015 season.