(Editor's note: Each day this week, we will be examining a different A's prospect to assess their big-league potential and determine their possible role with the team.)
The A's believe they have something special in Sean Murphy.
The 24-year-old catcher is ranked as Oakland's third-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, and the number four catcher prospect in all of baseball.
The A's drafted Murphy in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Wright State, where he started his career as a walk-on. He is probably still a year away from being MLB-ready and figures to begin the 2019 season with Triple-A Las Vegas.
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Murphy is already an elite defensive catcher with a cannon for an arm. His offense continues to improve and he has the potential to hit for average and power at the Major League level.
Last season in Double-A, Murphy slashed .288/.358/.498 with eight home runs, 26 doubles, and 43 RBI in 68 games. He played just three games at the Triple-A level, going 2-for-8 with three walks.
There's no question Murphy is Oakland's catcher of the future. Even if he never develops into an above average hitter, his defense alone will make him a valuable commodity.
In the meantime, the A's must decide whether to bring back Jonathan Lucroy for another year or two. With backup catcher Josh Phegley eligible for arbitration, Oakland technically has no catchers on the 40-man roster under contract for next season. If they elect to move on without Lucroy, they will likely have to sign another veteran catcher to hold down the job until Murphy is ready.
If Murphy can continue to improve offensively, he has the potential to become one of the best catchers in baseball. His defense should make him a solid starting catcher for many years in Oakland.