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Braves Minor League Player Review: Owen Murphy

The Braves’ top pick in 2022 entered his first full season of pro ball this year.

2022 MLB Draft Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

In 2023, Owen Murphy had his first full professional season after being taken by the Atlanta Braves in the first round last summer.

How Acquired

The Braves made Murphy the 20th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft out of Riverside-Brookfield HS in Brookfield, Illinois. Murphy signed for a slightly below-slot bonus at $2.56 million. The 6’1”, 190-pound right hander turned 20 at the end of September.

Preseason report card

Murphy ranked second on our preseason version of the Top 25 prospect list, behind only AJ Smith-Shawver. At that time, he was coming in for his age-19 season with a promising four-pitch mix and feel for throwing strikes, but would likely need some time to develop as a two-way, former multi-sport athlete from a cold-weather state. His fastball is potentially his one plus pitch, but all four offerings could be average or better, as well as his command.

Murphy showed some promise with a 4.50 ERA and 2.50ish FIP in 12 innings after signing last year between the FCL and Augusta, notching 17 strikeouts in those 12 innings. However that was a small sample size, so this would be our first real look at him in pro ball.

What we saw in 2023

Murphy spent the year almost entirely in Low-A after pitching seven innings there in 2022. He went 6-3 with a 4.71 ERA, 3.74 FIP, and 3.47 xFIP, striking out 97 and walking 28 in 72 23 innings there. He got to make his final three starts in High-A Rome and went 17 innings with a 4.76 ERA, 3.32 FIP, and 4.21 xFIP as he struck out 16 and walked four in another small sample.

The biggest concern for Murphy was a brief stretch where he was homer-prone. After making five starts without allowing a homer to open the year and closing in Augusta with five straight without allowing a homer, he spent the middle eight games allowing eight homers — giving up at least one in all but one outing.

Murphy’s year was about what we expected, spending the majority of a full year in Low-A and looking competent, but also like a player still developing. He missed bats at a high rate with a strikeout rate almost at 30 percent (29.5 percent), with a walk rate around eight percent.

Murphy spent the year being limited with his pitch count, only going longer than five innings twice all year in Augusta before doing it twice more in Rome. In addition to the strong strikeout rate, the next best thing about his year was that he never got rocked in any outing. He allowed a season-high four earned runs just six times in 21 games. Aside from that four-start homer-prone stretch, he only had an FIP above 5.00 in one start all season, and an FIP above 4.50 only three other times. His season was a lot of good-to-great efforts with one problematic stretch, pretty much.

2024 outlook

Murphy is likely going to start back in High-A and spend a while there, as he only got 17 innings there at the end of last year. An in-season promotion to Double-A will be a possibility, but not until he either earns it or is given a brief look at the end of the season. He is likely to have some ups and downs as he did this year, but the hope is that he is able to avoid a poor stretch in his second full pro season. He still projects as a potential middle of the rotation starter and could be ready for prime time in 2026.

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