Sean Murphy

A's farm system ranked No. 15 in MLB by Baseball America before season

A's farm system ranked No. 15 in MLB by Baseball America before season

A's pitchers and catchers reported Wednesday with a sense of excitement to start the season. And not only because legendary pitcher Dave Stewart called the rotation future superstars.

Although, that certainly helps.

Baseball America published its annual farm system rankings with the A's landing right in the middle at No. 15 overall.

What they said: "It’s always better to have stars than depth. Stars win titles, while depth can often be found on the free-agent market at an inexpensive price. The A’s have potential stars in Jesús Luzardo, A.J. Puk and even Sean Murphy. The depth? The front office will have to keep being creative to fill holes."

Baseball America has three A's on its top 100 list with lefties Luzardo and Puk and Nos. 9 and 21 overall, respectively, and Murphy, a catcher, at the No. 41 spot.

Both Puk and Luzardo should make for great additions to the pitching rotation after a brief cup of coffee in 2019. 

Puk is beautifully recovering from the Tommy John surgery he had in April of 2018, and in 11.1 innings out of the bullpen last season, he posted a 3.18 ERA with 13 strikeouts.

Luzardo, also limited last season, posted a 1.50 ERA and struck out 16 over 12 innings.

Behind the plate will be Murphy who, at the moment, is in the lead to start at catcher, a position important to manager Bob Melvin.

"[He] did enough last year, and certainly in his minor-league career, to have us excited," Melvin told NBC Sports California at the end of January.

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In 60 plate appearances last season, Murphy slashed .245/.333/.566 with four homers and eight RBI. 

Before the 2019 season, the A's were ranked by Baseball America as the 11th-best farm system, so they've fallen back a bit. But that could mean there's just a spike in production across other organizations.

Why A's young catchers excited Bob Melvin heading into 2020 season

Why A's young catchers excited Bob Melvin heading into 2020 season

OAKLAND -- The catcher position is an important one, especially for A's manager Bob Melvin.

A 10-year catcher in the bigs, Melvin knows how underappreciated the position can be. But not to him.

For the A's, however, the position appears quite young. If today were Opening Day, 25-year-old Sean Murphy would be the starter behind the plate.

Not that this would be particularly a bad thing. In 60 big-league plate appearances last season, Murphy slashed .245/.333/.566 with four home runs and eight RBI.  

"And certainly the development of Murphy," Melvin told NBC Sports California at A's Media Day last Friday. "[He] did enough last year, and certainly in his minor-league career, to have us excited."

Across three minor-league teams last season, Murphy finished with a .964 OPS, 11 home runs and 31 RBI in 41 games. 

The A's also acquired catcher Austin Allen in the Jurickson Profar trade from the Padres.

"We're excited to see Allen -- supposedly he swings the bat really well," Melvin told NBC Sports California. 

Fans appear to be excited, too.

"Jonah Heim had a great year for us, too -- he's another roster guy for us, a switch-hitting catcher who really kind of had a breakout year for himself last year, so he's another guy we'll be watching."

Heim took advantage of the Pacific Coast League with a .358/.412/.557 line in 35 games with Triple-A Las Vegas. 

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"Who knows if there's something else we do before spring, or during spring -- or whatever, but we're comfortable with the guys we have right now," Melvin added.

The A's reportedly were targeting veteran catcher Matt Wieters before he ultimately signed with the Cardinals earlier this month.

With just a couple of notable catchers left on the free-agent market, the A's could make a bid on one of them, but there's always a possibility of a trade for one of those veteran names to be a part of that squad.

Three A's prospects make MLB Pipeline's latest top 100 for 2020 season

Three A's prospects make MLB Pipeline's latest top 100 for 2020 season

The A's impressive trio of talented prospects continued to be recognized on Saturday. Pitchers Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk, as well as catcher Sean Murphy, were listed on MLB Pipeline's new list of their top 100 prospects for the 2020 season. 

Luzardo leads the way at No. 12 with Murphy ranked 33 and Puk at No. 60. This is much different than how Baseball America ranked the three

Luzardo, 22, is ranked three spots lower by MLB Pipeline than Baseball America, which placed the left-handed pitcher as the ninth-best prospect in baseball. Murphy and Puk are seen much differently by the two outlets as well. 

Baseball America has Puk as high as No. 21, coming in as Oakland's second-best prospect. His injury history as someone who underwent Tommy John surgery could be a reason MLB Pipeline ranks him lower. 

Murphy, on the other hand, is ranked eight spots higher on MLB Pipeline's top 100 than he is on Baseball America's. He's considered the best defensive prospect at catcher and could be a Gold Glove candidate as soon as this upcoming season. 

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All three prospects played a part in the A's reaching the AL Wild-Card Game last season. In 2020, however, they'll look to push Oakland to an AL West title and more. 

The future is here for the A's, and it starts with Luzardo, Murphy and Puk.