IMG Academy alumnus JR Murphy, a second round pick of the New York Yankees (2009) has been turning the heads of Major League players, namely Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis.See what they had to say about the former IMG Academy standout below.
From the Times of Trenton (New Jersey):
TRENTON – With all the attention on Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis, there are at least a few Trenton Thunder players who have caught the attention of the big league club.
And also caught the eye of Teixeira and Youkilis.
After Wednesday’s game here, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made specific reference to Double-A outfielders Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott, as well as the Trenton catcher — meaning J.R. Murphy.
The statement was that Yankee fans will eventually see those guys playing in the Bronx.
Before the end of Thursday night’s 12-inning 5-4 win over the Erie SeaWolves, in which Heathcott had the game-winning hit, the Yankees-bound veterans echoed their boss’ words.
“Slade Heathcott, he has a lot of tools,’’ Teixeira said about the 22-year-old. “That (home run) he hit (Wednesday), that’s impressive; an opposite-field line drive.
“He probably hit that ball 400 feet. So he impressed me.’’
Youkilis took it even further, complementing all three outfielders.
“That’s a really good outfield in Double-A,’’ he said. “Those guys put together some really good at-bats. But the big one for me I think is J.R. (age 22) behind the plate. With how he its, and defensively he’s great behind the dish.’’
Trenton manager Tony Franklin was not surprised to hear about the praise.
“Not at all,’’ the veteran manager said. “They are very good players, very good hitters. I think their tools suggest that they are going to be major-league players.
“We need production from them. But don’t let the numbers fool you. The numbers they have right now, particularly if they’re not great numbers, it’s a matter of their progressing throughout the season, and I think all three of them are.’’
Thursday night, in front of another sellout crowd, Murphy had three singles and Heathcott three singles and a double, and both scored a run in the ninth inning when Trenton tied the game. Austin, 21, went hitless.
As for the the big leaguers, who return to Yankee Stadium for Friday night’s game against Boston, Youkilis and Teixeira each singled in three at-bats.
As for the projected Yankees, Austin leads the team in RBIs with 32, has five home runs and has accounted for 16 runs in his last 10 games. In his last 10 games Heathcott has two homers and 11 RBIs and is hitting over .300. Murphy’s last nine games have produced nine runs and five RBIs, he is tied for team lead in homers with five and is hitting .293.
Despite their progress, the buzz continued for the second day to be about the visitors from the big-league club.
The Trenton clubhouse was business as usual, despite a pair of players who have been All-Stars and have Gold Glove Awards and have played in the World Series.
“Those two guys are awesome,’’ Murphy said. “They’re really low-key, humble guys. They’re easy to talk to, easy to approach. They just want to be one of us while they’re here and help out.
“I’ve tried to keep out of their hair as much as possible, but it’s neat to play with some of those guys.’’
“I feel the guys are on our roster feel comfortable around them,’’ Franklin said. “They came in and blended in, doing exercises and telling stories about when they were in Double-A.’’
Heathcott spent time with the duo in spring training, saying mostly they talked about pitching.
“I’m not a guy big on asking questions,’’ he said. “I just sit back and listen and watch those guys and see how they do it. Maybe I’ll learn something like that. You know, it’s just baseball.’’
While the words from Cashman were flattering, the minor league guys know there will be no free rides to the bigs, and today’s work ethic can not deviate from last week’s.
“For him to say that, that’s a great feeling,’’ Austin said about Cashman’s comments.
“But I try not to get caught up in that stuff. Right now I’m just trying to help this team win in Trenton.’’
If Cashman’s assessments are correct, Austin, along with Heathcott and Murphy, will some day be helping the Yankees.