BRADENTON — John Ryan Murphy has been a Boston Red Sox fan for most of his life. On Tuesday, their archrivals came calling.
The New York Yankees selected the IMG Academy School graduate with the 76th pick in the second round of the Major League Baseball 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
“I cannot be any more excited,” said Murphy, a catcher who has trained at IMG Academy the past four years. “We (heard) the name being announced, and we went crazy right away.”
Murphy worked out for Yankees scouts Saturday in Tampa and was dressed in a New York T-shirt and ballcap when he witnessed what he had dreamed of most of his life.
“I’m pretty sure we woke the neighbors up,” he said.
It was the 2009 spring baseball season when Murphy announced himself to the baseball world.
Murphy, who switched to catcher before the start of his senior season after playing on the corners of the infield for three years, had a .627 batting average, 11 home runs, 66 RBIs and 34 extra-base hits in 102 at-bats. The Panthers finished the season with a 29-1 record.
“It has been a lot of hard work,” Murphy said while trying to collect himself. “I guess I’m starting to realize it will all pay off. This is obviously only the first of many things to come, but I worked hard up to this point, so I’m going to celebrate as much as I can before I get started.”
Murphy, who has committed to play at the University of Miami next season, said he doesn’t know if he will forgo college to enter the Yankees minor league system.
Whatever decision Murphy and his family choose, his IMG Academy School coach Kevin Sharp is convinced Murphy will play at a high level no matter what route he takes.
“I’ve been blessed to have a lot of good players over the years,” Sharp said in a story that appeared in Sunday’s Herald, “and if I could take the best qualities of all those players, ages 14 through 18, J.R. encompasses what those people would be. He comes from a great family, and he’s a great person.”
Along with working out for the Yankees, Murphy also auditioned for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers.
Baseball America ranks Murphy, a right-handed hitter, as the fifth-best catching prospect in the country.
Murphy is the highest draft pick from Manatee County since former Lakewood Ranch star and Washington Nationals outfielder Lastings Milledge was taken 12th overall by the New York Mets in 2003.
“We think I’m ready for it,” said Murphy, who was surrounded by family and friends. “It’s going to be a grind, but we feel I’m more mature for my age than a lot of other kids. So whatever I decide to do in the upcoming weeks, I’m not going to make a wrong decision.”