Red Sox pitching prospect Chris Murphy put together quite the outing for Double-A Portland at Hadlock Field on Tuesday night.
Matched up against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets affiliate) in what was his third start of the season for the Sea Dogs, Murphy kept the opposition off the scoreboard while scattering all of one hit and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts over seven dominating innings of work.
Early on, it did not appear as though Murphy was at his sharpest considering he allowed two of the first three batters he faced to reach base via a one-out single and walk.
After escaping that jam, however, the left-hander settled in and proceeded to mow the Rumble Ponies down in order on more than just one occasion.
From the beginning of the second inning on, Murphy retired all of the final 18 hitters who came to the plate against him in the process of stringing together those seven scoreless, one-hit frames.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (56 strikes), Murphy ended his night having induced eight groundouts and three fly outs.
He later made way for relievers Jose Disla and Tyler Olson, who both slammed the door on the Rumble Ponies in the eighth and ninth innings to secure an 11-0 shutout victory for the Sea Dogs.
Through his first three starts with Portland dating back to August 4, Murphy has posted a 2.12 ERA and 3.90 xFIP with 21 strikeouts and just five walks over 17 total innings pitched thus far.
The Red Sox originally selected the 23-year-old in the sixth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of San Diego. He was scouted by J.J. Altobelli and later signed with Boston for $200,000.
After beginning his professional career in Lowell that summer and only having the fall instructional league to fall back on last year on account of the COVID-19 pandemic-induced shutdown, Murphy opened the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Greenville.
In 14 starts with the Drive, the California native put up a 4.21 ERA and less favorable 4.59 xFIP over the course of 68 1/3 innings pitched, but nevertheless earned a promotion to Portland on July 31.
In the three starts he has made with the Sea Dogs to this point, Murphy has proven to be more effective in regards to limiting traffic on the base paths. After averaging more than three walks per nine innings in Greenville, the lefty has trimmed that number down to 2.65 in Portland.
On top of that, Murphy has increased his strikeout rate since his promotion (28.3% to 32.3%) while also holding opposing hitters to a miniscule .183 batting average against.
As things stand at the moment, Murphy is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking fifth among pitchers in the organization.
Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-1, 175 pound hurler throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 90-94 mph fastball that tops out at 96 mph, an 80-82 mph changeup, a 73-75 curveball with a 1-to-7 break, and an 80-84 mph slider.
As noted by SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, Murphy’s fastball has touched 97-98 mph this season, while his other pitches have proven capable of inducing plenty of swings-and-misses.
That being said, Cundall did point out that the “key for [Murphy] going forward is refining [his] command.”
Murphy, who does not turn 24 until next June, does not become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft until December 2022, so there is still some time before the Red Sox need to make a decision in regards to adding him to their 40-man roster.
(Picture of Chris Murphy: Portland Sea Dogs)