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Owen Murphy ending HS career strong before becoming potential MLB Draft pick
Owen Murphy’s strong performance in the PDP league and with USA Baseball has him rising up MLB Draft boards. (Credit: USA Baseball)

Owen Murphy ending HS career strong before becoming potential MLB Draft pick

Editor’s note: The Atlanta Braves selected RHP Owen Murphy with the 20th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2022 MLB Draft on July 17.

RIVERSIDE, Ill. (BVM) – Since he was little, Owen Murphy dreamed of playing professional baseball someday. Each year in school, when asked what he wanted to do for a career in the future, that was his answer. This summer, that dream could very well become a reality.

“It’s absolutely crazy,” Murphy said. “I always dreamt of it … That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. In fifth grade, my gym teacher told me that there’s a .0001% chance that I’d ever go pro in a sport. It was the one time I ever really talked back in school and I said to her, ‘You’ll see.’ I’ve never been a guy to be like that and I even look back on it and kind of regret it a little bit but it’s so funny how much I believed in it when I was younger and how real it’s become. It is really surreal, I just can’t believe I’m having these opportunities and I don’t think it’s hit me quite yet.”

Murphy continues to rise in the rankings for July’s MLB Draft, now listed as the 70th best prospect available this summer according to mlb.com. There is little doubt he will hear his name called on the big stage in a few months, a moment that will be very special for himself, his family and his community.

“I don’t know if I can even describe the feeling I might feel if it happens,” Murphy said. “Only time will tell. A lot of years of hard work, perseverance and a lot of luck just kind of summed up in one night. If it happens, it’ll be amazing.”

Owen Murphy is the 70th-ranked prospect in this year’s MLB Draft according to mlb.com. (Credit: USA Baseball)

There is no doubt it could be a magical summer for the Riverside Brookfield senior. However, right now he is focusing on staying in the moment and finishing off his high school career on a high note.

Murphy has been playing baseball essentially since he could walk. He took the typical path by beginning with tee-ball, moving up to little league and eventually joining a part-time travel league. 

“I loved it ever since I picked up a bat,” Murphy said. “The first thing was the environment. I was lucky enough to have my dad coach me … It made me fall in love with it because I had to work a lot harder than other kids to get the spot that I wanted. I just thought that concept was so fun.”

However, Murphy wasn’t solely focused on baseball, as he also played basketball and football growing up. His football career continued into high school where Murphy became a solid quarterback for Riverside Brookfield. Although he wasn’t always playing for the best teams, football still taught him plenty when it came to the mental toughness aspect of sports.

“Football shaped who I am,” Murphy noted. “I wouldn’t have gotten the toughness and grit and competitiveness without it. I love the hell out of the sport.”

The takeaways Murphy gained from the football field have translated onto the baseball diamond. As he began playing full-time travel ball, his passion for the sport only increased. 

That continued into his high school career at Riverside Brookfield, where Murphy burst onto the scene with a .401 batting average and three home runs as a freshman. On the mound, the standout boasted a 1.69 ERA with 43 strikeouts. 

Owen Murphy has been dominant throughout his career at Riverside Brookfield, putting up some highly impressive numbers in both his junior and senior seasons. (Credit: USA Baseball)

The success along with getting to play alongside many upperclassmen including his cousin – now Chattanooga State catcher Mike Schicker – created a great first year for Murphy.

“My freshman year, it was some of the most fun times of my life,” Murphy said. “Playing with my cousin Mike Schicker, we were like attached at the hip, we were always together, he would take me everywhere … To be able to just be a sponge from them and their information, and the way that they played the game was the coolest thing for me.”

Going into his sophomore season, Murphy was as eager as ever to get on the diamond. Getting to play alongside Schicker once again, hitting 90 mph for the first time on the mound and playing with a team that had a lot of potential, it was poised to be a great season. But of course, it never happened.

“I was just so excited to get in the game and ball out with the guys,” Murphy said. “And then it ends up being canceled for a little bit and we get pushed back during spring break.”

Murphy and his Bulldog teammates continued to practice during spring break in anticipation of the season starting. However, soon came official word that the entirety of the schedule had been canceled.

“It crushed us,” Murphy said. “It stunk because that was going to be my last season with Mike.”

Although he missed out on his high school season, Murphy traveled south where he was able to play baseball throughout the summer and fall. Continuing to improve, the stage was set for a triumphant return to the field at Riverside Brookfield in the spring of 2021. While it was a new-look Bulldogs team, Murphy still led his squad to a strong season.

“I was super proud of our team because we didn’t have very high expectations going into it,” Murphy said. “But we ended up doing very well … I couldn’t ask for a better year.”

Playing in the PDP league and with USA Baseball last year helped Owen Murphy further showcase his talents on the national stage. (Credit: USA Baseball)

In his junior campaign, the 6-foot-1 standout batted .453 with 34 hits and nine home runs while also achieving a 6-1 record on the mound with a 0.33 ERA and 97 strikeouts. Riverside Brookfield finished the season with a tough loss in regionals, but the success had the Bulldogs prepared for another strong year this spring.

“I was so excited about the upcoming season and to be with the guys again,” Murphy said. “We had a lot of returning guys so a lot of guys knew how we ran it last year and how committed we were. It’s the same thing and the same kind of atmosphere. We’re doing pretty good so far and it’s some of the most fun baseball I’ve played in my life.”

Despite some of the MLB Draft buzz surrounding him, Murphy continues to enjoy his last go around of high school ball. The Bulldogs have been rolling, racking up 15 wins already on the year. For Murphy, he continues to show his elite talent as well, batting over .500 with nine home runs, over 30 RBIs and nearly 30 runs scored as of mid April. He has also looked solid on the bump, already striking out 70 batters.

Last year, the pitcher and third baseman was named Prep Baseball Report’s player of the year in the state of Illinois. This year, he has already earned a state player of the week honor from the same outlet.

“I’m really grateful for everything that I’ve done,” Murphy said. “But at the same time, when I think about it all, the thing that it highlights in my mind is the guys I’ve been playing with and the team that I’m on. They’re the ones that have helped me feel comfortable, feel in the moment and feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be playing this game. Stuff just happens in baseball, you connect with a couple balls, stuff lands and you have a good week. I’m proud of it but I’m even more proud of the team that I’m on.”

As they get into the back half of the season, Murphy hopes the Bulldogs can achieve a 20-win campaign, win conference and go as deep as possible in the postseason. Then, it will be off to new beginnings for the senior.

From here on out, Murphy will be performing on the national stage. It’s something he already did last year while playing in the Prospect Development Pipeline league and later with USA Baseball’s 18U national team.

“The PDP league was probably my first national exposure and it was just the coolest thing ever,” Murphy said. “We got to stay in the hotel with all the guys and play baseball all day, every day. It was like my dream, I didn’t want to come home. I was like a kid in a candy store, every day I was waking up so excited to get out on the field.

“I took advantage of my moment. I did really well and ended up getting another spot at the 40-man and made the USA team which was another experience in itself, just absolutely amazing to be around … I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

A versatile talent with a tremendous arm and a potent bat, Murphy hopes to be a two-way player as long as he can. That opportunity will be available to him if he goes to Notre Dame, who he committed to back in 2019 amongst a bevy of interested programs.

“I was planning on waiting until the next summer to make a decision, but Notre Dame was pretty hot on my trail,” Murphy said. “They wanted me to come down for something during the fall. I ended up doing it and they surprised me and offered me while I was down there.

“The way that program has been going right now with the way that Link Jarrett, Chuck Ristano and Rich Wallace are running it, they’re just amazing guys and they’re the reason why I’m going there. The culture that they bring, the way that the university is, it blew me away while I was down there.”

Murphy was also interested in TCU and Clemson, but took no additional visits after seeing Notre Dame. If he does suit up for the Fighting Irish, Murphy hopes to bring as much as he can to the team and the program. However, if he does end up getting drafted this summer, he may have to make a decision between college and the MLB. 

If Owen Murphy does play college baseball, he will do so at Notre Dame after committing to the Fighting Irish back in 2019. (Courtesy: @rbhsathletics/Twitter)

“It’ll probably come down to what they want me to do at the professional level,” Murphy said. “I want to go as far as I can as a two-way. I think when it comes down to it, it will just be that decision. The money is amazing, but I don’t know if it’s really about the money for me. It’s more about where am I going to be the happiest, where am I going to play the best baseball and where am I going to be the happiest playing the best baseball.”

If Murphy does start his journey to the MLB later this year, he will begin following in the footsteps of one of his biggest idols, Eric Orze, a fifthround draft pick of the New York Mets in 2020 who currently plays with the organization’s Triple-A squad, the Syracuse Mets. 

The two met each other while Murphy played for Rake City Baseball, and Orze has inspired the Riverside Brookfield senior through his incredible journey to get to the pros, which has included twice beating testicular cancer.

“He wasn’t an amazing player coming out of the organization, he ended up going to a community college in Florida,” Murphy said. “When he got to New Orleans, he ended up being diagnosed with cancer, fought through it, beat it, got it back and fought through it to beat it again. Hearing about that part of his story is absolutely amazing … It leaves me speechless. To see the way he works on his game, and how he brings himself up, the way that he goes about his business is just astounding with what he’s been through. I just look up to him so much. He’s an amazing guy and exactly what I want to be.”

Like Orze, Murphy will soon have his chance to break through to the pros whether that comes later this year or further down the road. Whenever it happens, his true passion for the game is bound to lead him to success at the highest level.

“They’re going to get an extreme competitor that wants to come out every day no matter what, no matter how he’s feeling and just wants to have fun and lay it all out there on the field,” Murphy said. “I hope to be involved in the sport as long as possible. Everyone’s goal is to make it to the show, and that’s absolutely my goal, but I just want to be involved with the sport because I love it so much and I want to be a part of it for the rest of my life.”

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