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Tom Murphy showing signs of breaking out of season-long slump

Catching prospect goes 7-for-8 over his last two starts for the Isotopes

Rockies catching prospect Tom Murphy has shown some signs of life in his last two games with the Isotopes.
Rockies catching prospect Tom Murphy has shown some signs of life in his last two games with the Isotopes.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

To say that catcher Tom Murphy has been in a hitting funk this season might be underselling just how much he has struggled.

Murphy hit an anemic .178/.187/.329 in June, a month where his team went 8-20. Overall, he has a ratio of 53 strikeouts to just four walks in 162 plate appearances.

In the last two Isotopes games, however, Murphy has shown signs that he can still turn things around.

Murphy went 4-for-4 on Monday, falling a double shy of the cycle, after a 3-for-4 outing at Sacramento on Friday.

The 25-year-old prospect said he was fully aware that he was a double shy of the cycle in his final at-bat. He ended up with a grounder up the middle that had no chance of being anything more than a single.

“I mean, yeah, the guys in the dugout weren’t going to let me forget that,” Murphy said. “I just tried to go up there with the same approach I’d been using the whole game. The ball just didn’t allow me to get a double, that’s all.”

Murphy’s two-game turnaround has his manager hopeful.

“He’s worked hard,” Glenallen Hill said. “We narrowed some things down and I think that we’ve got it figured out in terms of what he needs to do on the basis of what his focus needs to be. And it’s showing up.

“Now, the thing is for him to be able to sustain that, which I believe that he will. It’s really nice to see someone with his hard work (ethic) pay off in terms of the results in the game.”

The Isotopes players have been fond of saying that just as hitting is contagious, so is the opposite. They scored just 27 runs during a recent 13-game losing streak in June that set a franchise record.

Murphy said he and many other Isotopes got caught up in trying to do too much. That led to a tough combination of mental and mechanical issues at the plate.

“At this point of the season, it’s a little bit of both,” Murphy said. “It’s probably more mental than anything. Guys know they can hit, but when the team is struggling to win and we’re not hitting at the same time, the panic button is pressed by the whole team. I saw a much more relaxed, much more confident team (Monday). That’s the way it’s been the last few games.”

In addition to his individual work with Hill and hitting coach John Shelby, Murphy said a full team meeting during the road series at Sacramento was critical in starting the process of turning things around.

“It was good, it was probably one of the better conversations we had as a team this year,” Murphy said. “It’s the kind of thing that can get us going.”

Like a good catcher Murphy was also quick to compliment the Albuquerque pitching staff, which has continued to throw the ball well, even during that recent losing skid.

“It’s been incredible,” Murphy said. “Those guys, they’ve been commended before. During that meeting we had, it’s on us hitters, because the pitchers have been doing the job since day one here. There’s not too many games where we’re not in it because the pitching hasn’t been good that day. It’s a treat to catch every one of those guys over the last two months or so.”

The fact Murphy has never let his offensive struggles affect his improving defensive skills and his work with the pitchers is something that the Rockies organization has noticed.

“He has grown tremendously in his leadership and his ability to stay focused on handling the pitchers,” Hill said.

The Isotopes continue their series with the Chihuahuas on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.