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Rockies prospect rankings: No. 11 Tommy Murphy back on the fast track

Murphy hasn't been slowed at all coming back from a shoulder injury that cost him most of his 2014 season. As a result, he has a good chance to make his major league debut as soon as next month.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

PuRP No. 11: Tommy Murphy (739 points, 37 ballots) | Winter 2014 Ranking: 12 | High Ballot 7, Mode Ballot 11

After a lost season last year caused by a shoulder injury that limited him to just 27 games in Double-A, Tommy Murphy has regained some of his prospect shine this year with a return to his previous form. That form had seen him tear up Low-A pitching in 2013 to the extent that Colorado jumped him over High-A ball completely for a cameo in Double-A in 2013. As a result of the injuries last year, the 24-year-old catcher began his third year on a Double-A roster to open this season.

In New Britain, Murphy hit .249/.320/.468 (126 wRC+) in 294 plate appearances against pitchers who were slightly older than him. Murphy then took a detour from the minor leagues to serve as a catcher on Team USA in the Pan-American Games, where his squad earned a silver medal. Upon his return, Murphy was promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque, where in 55 plate appearances Murphy has a slug-heavy .315/.327/.630 (145 wRC+) line.

In their midseason prospect update, MLB.com rated Murphy 12th among Rockies prospects:

[Murphy] is healthy again and still has all the skills to be a solid big league catcher. Buiilt like a tank, Murphy might be the most physically impressive player in the Rockies' system. Very strong, lean and cut, he looks the part of a big league backstop with power. He's more power over bat right now as he does need to refine his approach. That would allow him to tap into his power more consistently, and he does have the ability to hit the ball out to all fields. Behind the plate, he has a strong arm and does a good job receiving and working with pitchers. He has the natural leadership skills teams want from a catcher.

Murphy is looking to get back on track after a lost season. Assuming health, he has the chance to be a power-hitting big league regular backstop in the near future.

Murphy is clearly the catching prospect the Rockies believe to be their future behind the plate, given that he has been the primary starter at every minor league level. Indeed, had injuries not halted his progress last year I believe he would be in the Show right now. As it is, Murphy is a near lock for the Rockies to protect this year from the Rule 5 Draft by placing him on the 40-man roster. In fact, Colorado might choose to add him to the roster in time for September call-ups this year.

There really isn't a whole lot in the way of Murphy plying his trade at Coors Field long-term, especially if the Rockies decide to part ways with Nick Hundley after 2016. Because I think that Murphy will become a big league regular behind the dish (or at least a very good backup), I placed him 10th on my ballot. The fact that a player with Murphy's potential is sitting (legitimately) just outside the top 10 is quite the endorsement of Colorado's minor league system right now.

Contract Status: 2012 third round, Rule 5 eligible after 2015, three options remaining

MLB ETA: 2016