Athletics

A's top prospect ranking: Why Sean Murphy comes in at No. 3 overall

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A's top prospect ranking: Why Sean Murphy comes in at No. 3 overall

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine the top 10 prospects in the A's organization. For each player, we will provide a scouting report and a realistic timetable for reaching the major leagues, as well as what he needs to do to stay there.

No. 3 - Sean Murphy, C

Murphy has long been considered the A's "catcher of the future." Well, the future is now.

Murphy made his highly-anticipated major league debut in September and slashed .245/.333/.566 with four home runs, five doubles, and eight RBI in 20 games. The 25-year-old was even better in 31 Triple-A contests, hitting .308/.386/.625 with 10 homers and 30 RBI.

Oakland originally drafted Murphy in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Scouts have been enamored with his elite defensive skills behind the plate, with MLB Pipeline giving his arm a 70 rating on the 20-80 scale, along with a field rating of 65.

Murphy's offensive production has dramatically increased over the past couple of years, particularly his power-hitting. He launched 15 home runs in 2019 between the majors and minors in just 61 games. His previous career-high -- at any level -- had been 13, and that took him 98 games.

Murphy should continue to improve at the plate, while his defense already is near Gold Glove level. By the end of 2019, he essentially had captured the A's starting catcher job and there's no reason to believe he'll lose that role next season, though he did undergo knee surgery this offseason. Still, he is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.

[RELATED: Why infielder Sheldon Neuse ranks as A's No. 4 prospect]

Oakland has a decision to make with Josh Phegley, who is in his third and final year of arbitration. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $2.2 million next season. If the A's do bring Phegley back, he almost certainly will be Murphy's backup. Oakland could also choose to sign a left-handed catcher in free agency to form a platoon.

Either way, Murphy appears to be the A's starting catcher in 2020 and beyond.

Marcus Semien says A's have no room for error in shortened MLB season

Marcus Semien says A's have no room for error in shortened MLB season

Coming off back-to-back 97-win seasons, the A's entered 2020 with aspirations of competing for a World Series title.

Those dreams have been put on hold by the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The start of the 2020 MLB season has been delayed until health officials deem it safe for people to leave their homes and gather in large groups.

While MLB and the Players' Association agreed to a number of items regarding the 2020 season, no one knows when regular-season games will be played or how many games each team will be able to play.

In the eyes of shortstop Marcus Semien, that could be a problem for the A's.

"We definitely have the talent, the arms, the depth," Semien told The San Francisco Chronincle's Susan Slusser on Friday on "The A's Plus" podcast. "You know, it's going to be interesting. Everything is hypothetical right now, so if there's a half season, you know, three months, whatever, whatever the season length is, we like our chances. It's just different.

"You gotta get off to a better start, I would assume with the shortened season. In the past we've had slow starts. I don't think there's any room for error there. You gotta come out to a better start."

Based on how the last two seasons played out, Semien is right. If MLB only plays an 81-game season, it doesn't bode well for the A's.

Through 81 games in 2018 and 2019, the A's had identical 43-38 records. Both teams were in third place in the AL West and not in possession of a wild-card spot at the completion of Game No. 81.

But both teams finished strong, going 54-27 over the final 81 games both seasons.

[RELATED: How simulated A's Opening Day game went]

If MLB were to shorten the 2020 season to just 81 games, the A's wouldn't have the ability to go on a second-half run.

If the A's don't start the season playing well, they will likely fail to achieve their goal of hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy.

A's pitcher Liam Hendriks says friend died of coronavirus in emotional post

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A's pitcher Liam Hendriks says friend died of coronavirus in emotional post

Liam Hendriks' friend died of the coronavirus, the A's pitcher revealed in a post on his Instagram story Thursday.

Courtesy: @Hendriks_31/Instagram

Conrad Buchanan, a Brooklyn-based musician who used the DJ name "Griff Gotti," posted last week on his Facebook page that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Hendriks wrote that Buchanan was survived by his wife and daughter.

"And I implore you: PLEASE take this virus seriously," Hendriks wrote in his post. "Stay home not only for your health, but for the sake of others as well."

The number of deaths in the United States linked to the coronavirus surpassed 1,000 on Thursday, and NBC News reporting has confirmed over 82,000 cases nationwide. State and local governments, including California, have issued shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders in order to halt the virus' spread.