Editor's note: We've made a change with the PuRPs list this year, deciding to unveil each player individually over the course of a few weeks. To keep track of the rankings, keep checking our PuRPs list StoryStream.
PuRP No. 12: Tom Murphy (299 points, 16 ballots) | Summer 2014 Ranking: 14 | High Ballot 5, Mode Ballot 11
Murphy, a 23-year-old catcher who spent the year at Double-A Tulsa, unfortunately had something of a lost year this season due to injuries, including shoulder stiffness, which limited him to 27 games. In his 109 plate appearances, Murphy put up a .213/.321/.415 line, which on the surface looks bad, but in terms of wRC+ it was still an above-average campaign (113 wRC+). In 2013, Murphy made waves by earning a promotion directly from Low-A to Double-A and hitting well (.290/.338/.493, 134 wRC+) in his 90 PA stint in the Texas League.
Despite the lost year, Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs rated Murphy 14th among Rockies prospects, having this to say about the Colorado catcher:
Murphy could be higher on this list with fringe everyday tools, but has been banged up all year and scouts haven't been able to see him play behind the plate recently. He's almost all the way back to catching, but has struggled at the plate this year and scouts haven't been too enthusiastic in their reviews. He'll be 24 next year and is in the upper levels, so a strong start to 2015 could move him up this list about 5 spots.
I have it on good authority that the Rockies were really in love with Murphy this time last year as a prospect despite concerns about him staying behind the plate. The fact that Murphy started 23 out of the 27 games he played at catcher (over fellow PuRP Ryan Casteel) show me that he's No. 1 on Colorado's catching prospect ladder. Still, to maintain that slot, Murphy will need to show the offensive form that allowed him to skip a level in 2013. He'll be Rule 5 eligible after 2015, but I fully expect him to either be on the big league roster already or protected at that time.
There really isn't a whole lot in the way of Murphy and Coors Field, especially if a trade for Wilin Rosario or Michael McKenry is worked out, but the system's top catching prospect has to prove that his offense will be able to mask his reported defensive deficiencies. Because I think that Murphy will bounce back when he's healthy and that he'll be a prime candidate to move up to the Show as soon as late 2015, even with some extra competition currently on the major league roster, I placed him 12th on my ballot.
Contract Status: 2012 third round, Rule 5 eligible after 2015, three options remaining
MLB ETA: Late 2015