Sean Murphy chose not to watch the first two rounds of the baseball draft Thursday night. The Wright State catcher tried to keep himself distracted by dining with his family and taking in a movie, Neighbors 2.
He didn’t miss much. Although he was pegged as the 63rd-best prospect by Baseball America and there were 77 spots to be filled, Murphy went undrafted.
“There was a chance I would get picked and a chance I wouldn’t. It was 50-50,” he said. “I didn’t want to watch it. That would just make me more stressed.”
The tension ended quickly Friday for the junior from Centerville. The catcher was picked in the third round at 83rd overall by the Oakland Athletics, becoming the highest-drafted Wright State player in 23 years.
“It’s a great organization,” he said. “I get to stay in the green and gold, so I don’t have to change my wardrobe too much. I’m excited.
“A lot of the credit goes to the coaching staff. I want to make sure I thank those guys first. And my parents, too.”
Wright State senior pitcher Jesse Scholtens also was drafted, snagged by the San Diego Padres in the ninth round.
The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Murphy is a late-bloomer — he was 5-9 and 145 pounds as a high school junior — but he became a two-time All-Horizon League pick and was freshman of the year in 2014. He had a .309 career average with 14 homers and 105 RBIs in 155 games, helping the Raiders to two straight NCAA regional runner-up finishes.
“(The Athletics) are going to get somebody who cares about winning, cares about the team and someone who is really, really dynamic behind the plate,” Wright State coach Greg Lovelady said.
Murphy was the Yadier Molina of the Horizon League. Opponents averaged about one steal per game during his career, and Lovelady said they were tentative on the basepaths.
“He didn’t get many opportunities (to throw out runners) because teams were scared to run on him,” Lovelady said.
The coach believes Murphy’s offense will catch up to his defense, and the player agreed. He was sidetracked this year by a hand injury that cost him 24 games, and he batted .287.
“I got off to a great start until I broke my hand,” Murphy said. “I feel like I was going to break out.”
He was the 10th catcher drafted.
Jim Callis, who was part of MLB.com’s broadcast team for second-day coverage, said: “He probably has the strongest arm among catchers in this draft. He’s athletic and moves well, so he’s going to be able to receive well.
“The question is how he’ll hit. He showed some power this year — four homers in his first eight games before he broke his hand. He came back and didn’t hit real well. He did not perform great with wood (bats) in the Cape Cod League last year. … If he doesn’t hit, he’s more of a backup. If you does hit, he’s a regular.”
Wright State has had 25 other draft picks since the program was launched in the 1970s, including four taken in the third round or higher: Joe Smith (third round, 94th overall, Mets, 2006), Brian Anderson (first round, 3rd overall, Angels, 1993), Keith Gordon (second round, 47th overall, Reds, 1990) and Mike Mathile (third round, 84th overall, Expos, 1990).
The 6-4, 235-pound Scholtens went 10-1 with a 2.75 ERA this season. The Californian, picked 264th overall, threw a perfect game and was named first-team all-league.
The Raiders could have as many as four more players picked in the 40-round draft, which concludes today.
“One of my goals is to prepare these kids for life. Whether that’s baseball or not is irrelevant because most of them won’t be in baseball,” said Lovelady, who is in his third year after a nine-year stint as an assistant. “But you get those Joe Smiths and Sean Murphys where the rest of their lives might be baseball. To have a small part in that is definitely rewarding.”