Jimmy Murphy Drafted By Baltimore Orioles

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Jimmy Murphy Drafted By Baltimore Orioles

Jimmy Murphy will be continuing his career in the Baltimore Orioles' system.

Jimmy Murphy will be continuing his career in the Baltimore Orioles' system.

Jimmy Murphy will be continuing his career in the Baltimore Orioles' system.

Jimmy Murphy will be continuing his career in the Baltimore Orioles' system.

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By Jack McLoone

Jimmy Murphy will be continuing his career in the Baltimore Orioles’ system. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

In the eighth round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, with the 248th overall pick, the Baltimore Orioles selected Fordham Baseball pitcher Jimmy Murphy, who just completed his graduate student year.

Like many kids growing up in the North Jersey area – Murphy is from South Orange, New Jersey – Murphy is a lifelong Yankees fan, a division rival of his new employer.

“It’s funny that it happened to be a division rival, but I am definitely willing to put that aside to be a part of this great organization,” said Murphy.

Murphy’s path to being drafted started off mired in injury. Murphy suffered an injury during the first series of his Fordham career which forced him to miss the first month of the season. His sophomore year, the injury bug bit back even more aggressively. Murphy started the season on the shelf with a hamstring injury, and in his first appearance back he reinjured himself before finishing the inning, ending his season. Like most athletes, Murphy used the injury as motivation.

“Not being able to play made me appreciate just being healthy more than I ever did, so in a way it pushed me to work harder, take great care of my body, and just appreciate the game at another level,” said Murphy. “I’m actually glad that happened and wouldn’t change any part of that path.”

Finally healthy his junior year, Murphy soon had to adapt to new challenge: after beginning the season as a starter, head coach Kevin Leighton began to use him in more of a relief role.

“It really didn’t matter to me what role I was in,” said Murphy. “I just wanted to do what I could to help the team win and try to get outs when Coach Leighton give me the ball, which is all my job really was, regardless of the inning or the score.”

Murphy’s senior year was more of the same, as he quickly returned to the bullpen, this time about as officially as the closer as the Rams get. He made six starts, but 23 overall appearances, picking up five saves.

Murphy’s senior year ended on a sour note. In an elimination game of the Atlantic 10 Championships against St. Joseph’s, he was brought in with the bases loaded and none out in the top of the ninth, Fordham leading 4-2. Four of the first batters he faced singled, giving the Hawks a 7-4 lead, and the Rams’ comeback in the home half fell short, ending their season.

But besides serving as motivation, that hamstring injury Murphy’s junior year served another purpose: another year of eligibility. Murphy returned as a graduate student this past season, and had easily his best year as a Ram.

Now working exclusively as a starter, and a back-of-the-weekend starter at that, Murphy had a 2.59 ERA and was second in the A-10 in strikeouts with 85. He was the first Rams pitcher to be named First Team All-Atlantic 10 since 2008. He clearly was not hampered stamina-wise by his time in the bullpen, going seven innings or more in all but three of his 13 starts, including four complete games in conference play. He was named A-10 Pitcher of the Week twice.

Murphy’s performance this season clearly caught the eyes of many scouts, but he tried to remain focused on the season.

“I was definitely aware that guys were coming to games to see me, but I tried not to think about that too much, certainly not on the field,” said Murphy. “As a starter you kind of live week to week and I was so concerned with preparing for my next start and doing my part to help the team win; it was really an afterthought to me. But I had emailed with [the Orioles] a bit before the season and they came up to the Rhode Island game, where I briefly met [Orioles general manager] Mr. [Dan] Duquette and then the next contact with them was not long before the pick.”

The Rams athletics family already had one exciting professional draft moment this year, when Fordham Football defensive back Jihaad Pretlow signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers shortly after the draft. The video of his reaction went semi-viral. How exciting were things in the Murphy home?

“It was an anxious feeling waiting around that day getting phone calls and not knowing if and when it was going to happen,” said Murphy. “My TV was actually about 30 seconds delayed, so I started getting congratulatory texts from friends and family before I even heard or before I had seen that Baltimore was on the clock, so I kind of wondered what was going on. We caught up and I heard my name called and my mom scream, and it was so exciting and relieving that it had actually happened.”

Murphy is the 35th Ram to be drafted, a list of players that includes Pete Harnisch, who was drafted by the Orioles in the first round of the 1987 draft. Harnisch pitched in the majors for 14 seasons, appearing as an All-Star in 1991 and amassing a career 3.89 ERA. In his 2013 recruiting class alone, there have been now five former Rams drafted: Charles Gailano and Brett Kennedy in 2015 and Greg Weissert and Joe Serrapica in 2016. The American League East is now home to three former Fordham pitchers, with Weissert drafted by the Yankees and Serrapica by the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I talked to all of those guys right after,” said Murphy. “They were all so happy for me and told me I deserved it, which meant the world to me. We are all still so close after playing together at Fordham, and it will be a lot of fun to share this experience with them. Having four players drafted from the same class is really a testament to the coaching staff, not only for finding quality players but for developing them and pushing them to get better and take their game to another level. All of the contact I received from friends, family, and coaches was truly special.”

Fordham Baseball has some history of success in baseball, producing two Hall of Famers in Ed Walsh (Class of 1903) and Frankie Frisch (Class of 1919). Nick Martinez is currently a starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers after being drafted in 2011 in the 18th round.

“It means a lot to me just to be mentioned with the other guys that have come out of Fordham,” said Murphy. “There are so many great players that have been a part of Fordham baseball and so much history with the program, so to be recognized as a part of that is a true honor.”

After traveling to Sarasota, Florida, for physical exams and workouts, Murphy will report to Aberdeen to play for the short-season Ironbirds, whose season starts on Monday, June 19, though whether he will be a starter or pitch out of the bullpen remains to be seen.

Murphy has one final message for all of those who supported him:

“I will most definitely miss playing games at Fordham, and am so grateful for the relationships I have built with teammates, coaches, and everyone who is a part of the Fordham family throughout my five years, and for the memories that come with it. I am so grateful for the opportunity ahead and all of this is a true honor.”

If you want a chance to see Murphy in action as a professional, the Ironbirds travel to play the Staten Island Yankees the weekend of June 24 and are in Brooklyn to take on the Cyclones starting July 23.