Over the next nine days I will profile the nine players that I encourage you to pay attention to during the '09 season. These players were not included on BBTiA's Top 25 Prospects list, and they all played in the Arizona Rookie League and above during the '08 season. I excluded all players that were not stateside in '08, but I will focus on the Dominican Summer League prospects before the minor league season begins.
The prospects that will be profiled might not be the biggest names, or have the highest ceilings, but they are the players that I think have a chance to take big steps forward during the '09 season. Who is on your list?
On my list so far:
Clark Murphy was drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 amateur draft out of Fallbrook Union High School in California. The 6' 2," 195-pound lefty has enormous raw power and a smooth line-drive stroke that really turned heads in his professional debut.
Murphy was assigned to the Arizona Rookie League after inking an over-slot deal to buy him away from a commitment to UCLA. Once game action began, Murphy started hitting and never stopped. His fluid swing produced a batting line of .358/.435/.526 in his brief 25-game stint in the AZL.
The knock on Murphy coming into the draft was that his swing had several mechanical issues that might prevent him from reaching his offensive potential. Murphy worked on staying back on the ball and making his swing more compact, and the results were quite obvious. He was able to use the entire field, and despite not hitting many homeruns (1), Murphy projects to hit for power as he climbs the ladder.
His overall defensive projection is quite limited. He was working in the outfield during the Fall Instructional League, but his natural athleticism (below-average speed) suggests he will probably be a first baseman at the higher levels. His arm is strong and his footwork looks pretty savvy around the bag at first base, but his path to the majors will depend on his ability to hit the ball.
I think Murphy jumps to full-season ball in '09, and should be the starting first baseman for Low-A Hickory. It's possible that he receives some playing time in right field, but as I mentioned above, Murphy should settle into the organizationally blocked first base position as he moves up. Look for Murphy to emerge as one of the better young power hitters in the system. He has a mature approach for a young hitter and has the power potential to become a very dangerous offensive threat.
Murphy's pre-draft scouting video:
[Direct link available here.]