CHULA, Ga. (BVM) — Hayden Murphy has emerged as the No. 5 player in the loaded state of Georgia and a prospect for the 2022 MLB Draft.
But for Murphy, it was all about football early on. That was until he bowed out of the sport due to head injuries.
After being diagnosed with one of a handful of concussions he endured while playing the sport, Murphy and his family felt it was time to change course when he was in fourth grade.
“My dad was like, ‘No more football,’” Murphy said. “I think that was the turning point for baseball.”
In the end, it seems like everything has worked out for Murphy. Now a high school senior, the 6-foot-3 righthander is the anchor of the pitching staff at Tiftarea Academy in Chula, Georgia, and is committed to play at Auburn University.
Murphy’s emergence was not sudden, as the Georgia native has been a regular on the travel ball circuit since he was 14, holding his own against lineups filled with Power 5 talent.
“I was like, ‘Maybe there’s a chance,” Murphy said.
Little did Murphy know, he was one of the top kids there. He received collegiate attention early, committing to the Tiger baseball program as just a freshman.
Blessed and excited to say I have committed to Auburn University to play baseball and continue my academic career. I’d like to say thanks to God first and for most. Then, my parents and coaches and friends!!!🦅🦅🦅#WarEagle pic.twitter.com/QeqmP16cTQ
— Hayden Murphy (@haydenmurphy03) September 17, 2018
“I just liked the people at Auburn,” Murphy said. “I’ve had a great relationship with them since early ninth grade year and that hasn’t changed. If anything it has gotten 20 times better and that’s how it needs to be. That’s why I loved it and still love it to this day.”
The only possible wrench in the way of Murphy heading to Auburn is this summer’s draft.
MLB Pipeline ranks Murphy as the No. 143 player in this year’s crop, putting him in the running to be selected in the fourth to fifth round.
“It’s something I think about, but it’s not something I stress about,” Murphy said. “It’s just a blessing if anything. You’ve got two options, which both are great options. It’s a win-win situation either way.”
While Murphy’s repeatable delivery and ability to consistently throw strikes are enticing, it’s his competitive nature that sets him apart from the rest.
“I just love competing,” Murphy said. “It could be a nobody or it could be the No. 1 player in the class. I just love doing it. Love competing.”
One pitcher that Murphy enjoys watching that shares the same competitive edge is Ian Anderson of the Atlanta Braves.
“I just like how he pitches,” Murphy said. “I watched him when he first got called up to the Braves and I really liked how he threw. I kind of went off him. Not really pitching wise, but just how he threw to hitters. With his sequences and stuff like that. I liked how he did it and I kind of do the same thing.”
Similar to Anderson’s high school days, Murphy has had his fair share of attending Perfect Game showcases and high school All-American games. A recognition that he takes pride in.
— Dick’s Sporting Goods All-American Classic (@PGAllAmerican) August 23, 2021
“It’s something I will always remember,” Murphy said. “It’s pretty cool. You can’t ever take that back. We were sitting in the dugout and the Padres were playing that day. Next thing you know, Eric Hosmer comes walking in. I can always tell people that I played in those.”
No matter the decision Murphy makes in July, he has plenty of time to make more memories throughout his baseball journey.
“I just want to be the best baseball player I can be,” Murphy said. “Getting to the big leagues and being a World Series champion in college are all cool things, but I want to just know and be the best Hayden Murphy in baseball and in life. Those are things I’m hoping to accomplish.”