Murphy Rewarded for Monster First Half, Diamondbacks Purchase Outfielder's Contract
ST. PAUL, MN - He led the league in nearly every major offensive category over the first half of the season. He was on pace to shatter the franchise home run record. He was selected to the 2019 American Association All-Star Game that will be played in his home ballpark. It was only a matter of time before an organization took notice. One finally did. Max Murphy, arguably the MVP of the league through the first half of the season, had his contract purchased by the Arizona Diamondbacks organization and will head to High-A Visalia.
The two-time American Association Player of the Week, was hitting .343 with 17 home runs and 43 RBI in 50 games. In 213 at bats he's scored 44 runs, ripped 13 doubles, one triple, stolen 12 bases, .406 on base percentage, and a .653 slugging percentage. He leads the league in runs, total bases (139), hits (73), home runs, and slugging percentage, tied for first in extra base hits (31), second in RBI, tied for third in average, and fifth in stolen bases.
" Max was tremendous for us," said Saints Manager George Tsamis. "I don't recall a player ever having as good of a half as he did. What a player"
He leaves the Saints on a current 12-game hitting streak, tied for the longest streak by any Saints player this season. He also went through a stretch of seven straight multi-hit games from June 17-23, which included two, four-hit games. During that stretch he doubled in five of six and homered in four of six. He has homered in back-to-back games four times, nearly matching his career total of six back-to-back homer stretches in his five-year career. Murphy set a career high on June 17 at Sioux Falls with seven RBI. He also set a career high with three stolen bases on July 9 at Kansas City.
"It's the reason you play right now, so you can work to get a shot," said Murphy. "It's been so much fun playing in St. Paul. It's the most fun I've had playing baseball in a long time and I think that helped me a lot. My goal was to go out there to win and have fun."
The 26-year-old Murphy is having a career year hitting .342 with 16 home runs and 40 RBI in 47 games. In 199 at bats he's scored 40 runs, ripped 13 doubles, one triple, swiped nine bases, with a .404 on base percentage, a .658 slugging percentage for a 1.062 OPS. He leads the league in total bases (131), home runs, slugging percentage, hits (68), and runs, tied for first in extra base hits (30), second in RBI and OPS, and tied for third in average. He is also tops in two sabermetric categories: runs created (51.18), the only players over 50.0 in that category, and tied for first in isolated power (.317). Isolated power only takes extra base hits and the type of extra base hit into account.
This is the second time Murphy won the award, also claiming the honor for the week of June 16-23 when he 19-37 (.514) with seven doubles, six home runs and 14 RBI in seven games.
The 26-year-old Murphy did it both offensively and defensively for the Saints in 2018. He hit .319 with seven home runs and 68 RBI in 98 games. In 427 at bats he roped 31 doubles, five triples, 32 walks, swiped 10 bases in 12 opportunities, with a .373 on base percentage, a .464 slugging percentage, for a .836 OPS. His 136 hits were the most ever by a Saints player, breaking the 124 set by Adam Olow in 2004 and the 31 doubles trailed only Jason Cooper's 38 in 2010. Murphy led the league in at bats, which was also a franchise record, second in doubles, third in hits, tied for third in total bases (198), and tied for ninth in average. He finished tied for second in outfield assists with 10. Murphy was also third in the sabermetric stat runs created, at 72.5, which estimates a player's offensive contribution in terms of total runs.
His season was highlighted by a career high 16-game hitting streak from July 14-August 1 and he reached base safely in 22 straight games from July 8-August 1. Murphy had another double-digit hitting streak when he hit safely in 12-straight from August 8-20. He tied a career high with an RBI in six straight from August 11-17 and broke his career high by scoring a run in 10-straight from August 8-17. He tied two other personal bests by collecting four-hits in a game, which he did twice, and five RBI on August 5 vs. Kansas City. In the playoffs Murphy hit safely in six straight games and hit .267 in eight games.
Murphy split the 2017 season between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga where he earned accolades at both stops. In Fort Myers he hit .307 with five home runs and 34 RBI in 78 games. In 300 at bats he scored 52 runs, slugged 16 doubles, three triples, stole nine bases, with a .390 on base percentage, and a .430 slugging percentage. He was named a Florida State League Post-Season All-Star as an outfielder. Murphy had a season high 11-game hitting streak from June 22-July 4 that included three, three-hit games and a four-hit game. He had a career high five RBI on June 14. He had an incredible 11 games with three of more hits. Murphy was promoted to Chattanooga on July 8 and hit .252 with a home run and 28 RBI in 52 games. In 206 games he scored 28 runs, roped 13 doubles, three triples, had a .317 on base percentage, and a .359 slugging percentage. Murphy was awarded the MiLB "Rawlings Gold Glove Award" for right field. His 80 runs scored were a career high. The Lookouts were co-champions in the Southern League after defeating the Pensacola Blue Wahoos three-games-to-two. The Championship series was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.
Murphy was a ninth-round draft pick by the Twins in 2014 out of Bradley University and made his mark immediately with an incredible five weeks at Low-A Elizabethton where he was named the league's Player of the Year and a Post-Season All-Star. He hit .378 with 10 home runs and 26 RBI in 35 games. In 119 at bats he scored 34 runs, had seven doubles, two triples, a .483 on base percentage, a .723 slugging percentage, for a mind boggling 1.206 OPS. He finished first in the league in slugging and second in home runs, despite playing just 35 games. He reached base safely in his first 22 professional games from June 19-July 13. Murphy had a 12-game hitting streak from June 20-July 4, scored a run in an incredible eight straight from June 23-July 1, and an RBI in six straight from June 24-30. He homered in back-to-back games on three different occasions and had two triples in a game on June 30. He was promoted to Single-A Cedar Rapids on July 28 and hit .242 with four home runs and 15 RBI in 32 games. Murphy hit safely in 11-straight from July 30-August 9. His team lost two-games-to-none in the semi-finals to the Kane County Cougars.
In 2015 Murphy spent the entire season at Cedar Rapids where he hit .225 with four home runs and 36 RBI in 93 games. In 347 at bats he scored 54 runs, ripped 15 doubles, had a career high eight triples, a .302 on base percentage, and a .349 slugging percentage. His hottest streak came during May 4-11 when he was named the Hitter of the Week. He collected a multi-hit game in five of six games, including two, three-hit performances. The Kernels made the playoffs, but lost in the Championship Series three-games-to-two to the West Michigan Whitecaps.
After starting 2016 at Cedar Rapids, Murphy was promoted to Fort Myers on April 28 and hit .257 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 49 games. Unfortunately, he was injured from July 2-August 9. Prior to going on the disabled list, and then doing a three-game rehab stint at the Gulf Coast level, Murphy was hitting .282.
Murphy played baseball, football, and soccer at Robbinsdale Cooper High School and earned 5-AAA All-Section Honors as a freshman. While at Bradley University he twice made ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays, on back-to-back nights, during the State Farm MVC Tournament. Both were on the defensive side in center field: a diving catch in right-center field and an over the shoulder grab racing towards the warning track.
Murphy becomes the second player this season to have his contract purchased by an organization, joining pitcher Nick Belzer who had his contract purchased by the Milwaukee Brewers on June 20. Murphy becomes the 135th contract purchased from the Saints, and 125th different player, including eight who had their contract sold twice and Caleb Thielbar who became the first player to have his contract purchased three times. Of the 135 contracts sold, eight were sold to international teams and a total of 19 have made it to the ultimate level of baseball following their time with the Saints (Julio DePaula, who played for the Saints in 2011, made it to the Major Leagues in 2014, never pitched in a game, but does not show up on the list below because his contract wasn't purchased directly from the Saints).
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