Sean Murphy is living the dream.
A Fishtown native and 2006 graduate of North Catholic High School, Murphy was drafted by the Oakland A’s last year and now — almost one year later to the date — he has scored a starting role in Class A action.
On June 12, the 6-foot-6, 215-pound hurler made his first minor-league start after being promoted from rookie ball. He tossed six innings, allowed six hits, struck out five and allowed just one run (1.50 ERA) as the Stockton Ports downed the Bakersfield Blaze, 4-2. Murphy got the win.
“It’s really great,” he said. “It’s definitely a dream job just to play baseball and get paid and travel around, meet new people and see the country. It’s an awesome job. I love it.”
Murphy has been embracing his nomadic lifestyle over the past year. After hearing his name announced in the 33rd round of the first-year player draft on June 9, 2010, he packed his bags for Arizona.
He quickly found his second home with the Arizona Athletics, a squad in the Oakland A’s minor-league system.
“I spent the summer there,” recalled the righthanded hurler, who is armed with a 93-mph fastball. “I was working as a closer toward the end of the year. I had a pretty good season.”
Murphy finished his rookie year undefeated with three wins. He recorded a 2.57 ERA and struck out 32 batters in 21 innings of action. He walked only eight.
“This year, while we were in extended spring training, I got offered a spot starting in Stockton, California,” explained Murphy, who pitched only six innings for Stockton in the California League before he was moved to the Burlington Bees, his current team. “Now I’m in Iowa in the Midwest League. It’s a good league. I really do like it.
“It’s a lot of cornfields,” he added with a laugh. “It’s cool. It’s very different than Philadelphia, but I like it.”
The Burlington Bees currently are in fifth place in the Midwestern League with a 5-6 record. Murphy has seen 16.2 innings of game action thus far, allowing 23 hits while fanning ten and walking four.
The Bees took two wins from their three-game series with Peoria from June 30 through July 1. Burlington downed Cedar Rapids 5-4 on July 3, but lost the second matchup on that series, falling 2-6 on July 4. The squad was slated to close out the series on Tuesday, however, that game was played after the Times went to press this week.
The grueling schedule of a minor leaguer hasn’t been too brutal for Murphy. A lifelong competitor on the diamond — he played for the Fishtown Athletic Club, the Bridesburg American Legion and the RBI Phillies as an amateur — Murphy has learned to handle his demanding schedule.
“I just love baseball so much,” said Murphy. “I love having control of the game and pitching. I don’t mind traveling around. I love seeing the United States. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity.
“It’s definitely a cool feeling to see the love I get from the little kids,” he added. “When you’re warming up, you have hundreds of kids who want your autograph. They stand outside your locker room and want to take pictures with you. It’s a really cool feeling.”
Murphy got a glimpse of this newfound status after being drafted last year. When the news broke, he was attending Keystone College in upstate Pennsylvania. By the time he returned to his Philadelphia home, everybody knew the name Sean Murphy.
“My mom (Lorraine) had a getting-drafted party at our house,” he recalled. “There were all Athletics stickers everywhere. Everybody in my neighborhood, in Fishtown, was congratulating me, asking me for my autograph. It was really cool and exciting.
“I’ll never forget when it first happened, it just hit me — my dream is coming true,” he continued. “I couldn’t believe it. Getting drafted was gut wrenching. I was bouncing off the walls, jumping up and down. It was awesome.”
Murphy won’t have a chance to return to his Philly roots until the offseason, and until then, it’s all business for the 22-year-old aspiring major-leaguer.
“I’m hoping to get a call-up by the end of year,” said Murphy. “I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to the big leagues. I just want to get there. It’s day in and day out, working my butt off, but that’s basically the object: to get moved up as fast as possible. The faster you get moved up, the closer you get to the big leagues.
“I would just love to play in a major league stadium,” he added. “It would be incredible to have my friends and family come watch me play professional baseball.” ull;•
Editor Melissa Yerkov can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org