Murphy perfect at the plate for Tampa

Yankees catching prospect collects five hits, scores four times

By David Heck / Special to | May 25, 2012 7:49 PM ET

J.R. Murphy knows the baseball season is a grind, so he tries to keep an even temperament, no matter how he's doing. But after a game like Friday's, even he had to be a little proud.

The Yankees' No. 13 prospect went 5-for-5 with a double and scored four times, helping Class A Advanced Tampa take down the Lakeland Flying Tigers, 7-1.

After going through a 2-for-29 rut that saw his average dip to .207, Murphy has recorded at least one base knock in seven of his last eight games. Following Friday's perfect night, his average stands at .241 -- the highest it's been since May 4.

"I got off to a rough start [this month], but if there's one thing I've learned from the last couple years playing, it's just such a long year," Murphy said. "As long as you keep the same approach, there's no reason to be frustrated, especially this early in the year."

Murphy recorded his only extra-base hit of the game in his first at-bat, doubling on a fly ball to center field. He came around to score four batters later on Kyle Roller's ground-rule double to left.

The 21-year-old catcher singled in each of his next four at-bats, with all four hits leading off an inning. The five-hit game was the first of his career and the first that Murphy could remember at any level.

"You might have to go in the archives for that, but I don't think so," said Murphy, who has a pair of four-hit games as a pro. "It was a pretty good day."

The Yankees combined to allow just an unearned run on nine hits and a walk, striking out five. Starter Sean Black (1-2) notched his first win of the season after tossing five innings, while Manuel Barreda and Rigoberto Arrebato combined for the final four frames.

"You have to give credit to the pitching staff and the defense," Murphy said. "It was definitely a great team effort tonight."

Murphy has primarily been a catcher since the Yankees selected him in the second round of the 2009 Draft, but he's also spent some time at third base, playing 13 games there last season. Although he's thoroughly focused on his work as a backstop -- he spends time every day working with coach Mario Garza on his blocking, receiving and throwing -- he knows his versatility could prove valuable down the line.

"The majority of my time's been behind the plate this year and I'm really working on that," said Murphy, who's played third once this season. "I'd like to catch as much as possible, but playing third is a good opportunity to have different ways to move up. I'd like to catch first, but I'd like to play third also if that can open up opportunities for me."

At the plate, Murphy has shown discipline all year, drawing 16 walks compared to 23 strikeouts. But he had not reaped the results until Friday. Even with his 5-for-5 effort in the books, he won't linger on it very long. It would be contrary to his everyday approach.

"It's definitely just maintaining an even keel throughout the season," he said. "Try not to have much of a roller-coaster whether you're struggling or going good. It's the best way to get through a long season, such a grind; just try to keep that even keel."

David Heck is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More