Murphy Focusing More Behind The Plate

J.R. Murphy is working on his defensive game

J.R. Murphy was more widely known for success at the plate than behind it when he was drafted by the Yankees back in June. Currently in the Dominican Republic, he's participating in his second consecutive Instructional League and he has made no bones about what his focus has been.

"Definitely 100 percent on my catching," J.R. Murphy admitted. "I pride my game on my hitting so hopefully that can keep going. Julio [Mosquera] and Victor [Valencia] have been awesome on the catching side.

"Working on that everyday, that's been the main thing, especially for Instructs. It's been early work and all day long [it's been] catching stuff. I feel a lot more comfortable back there."

Possessing an advanced hitting approach has allowed Murphy to focus more on one side of the ball this Instructional League season, but he also believes playing for The Pendleton School also gave him a head start to the professional game overall.

"I came in not really knowing what to expect," he said, "but I feel like IMG prepared me really well the four years that I went there.

"It's kind of like the days we had there, only longer. I feel like I've adjusted pretty well. The transition hasn't been that tough for me."

Not feeling overwhelmed by the competition at all has allowed the former third baseman to focus almost exclusively on his defensive game and he says it starts right at the foundation.

"I never really had a comfortable stance behind the plate so I'm getting a comfortable stance now," he revealed. "It's easing up on my receiving and it's making everything easier.

"I'm also working on my flexibility everyday. I need to get more flexible because that's going to help in the future."

He got into just nine games with the Gulf Coast League Yankees this past season, but Murphy, who was the backstop for the Nik Turley-Manny Barreda combined no-hitter late in the season, thinks he's learned a lot already.

"Really it's been how to figure it out on your own and make adjustments on the fly," he said of the most important thing he has learned. "The game is faster so you've got to figure it out and make the adjustments."

The 18-year old has figured some things out right away that will help propel him into his first full minor league season next year and that will be his main focus going forward.

"I think the biggest thing is to stay as consistent as possible," Murphy said. "Baseball is obviously a game where you have to stay consistent.

"I think working on the little things – my hitting mechanics, working on my receiving, and things like that – that'll get me ready for next year.

"Getting some running in, getting some conditioning in, that'll be important too because it's going to be a long year. Hopefully I'll prepare myself in the offseason and see how next year goes."

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