The Royals drafted Murdock 199th overall in the 2019 MLB Draft. I’ve been working my way through the NCAA pitchers the Royals took. With ESPN picking up so many NCAA baseball games over the last few seasons, it’s a great opportunity to watch these guys and see what they throw and how they work.
An article I read from the Richmond Times about Murdock talked about his inefficiency with his pitch count and how he wasn’t getting deep into games this year. It also talked about his comeback from Tommy John surgery and how he developed his change up to take stress off his elbow. He threw the pitch almost every time he needed to make a pitch in a tough situation in the fall at the University of Virginia. This was an effort to make the pitch more comfortable so he could have it ready by the time the season got there.
I watched Murdock throw against the Miami Hurricanes in the ACC Conference tournament on May 23. I also watched pieces of five other starts to get a feel for him but I focused primarily on the tournament start. Murdock only made it through 4.2 innings throwing 108 pitches. He gave up 5 runs but only 3 were earned.
Murdock’s fastball velo is good. His first few pitches were between 92 and 96. The fastball had some armside run and was strong when he threw it downhill. As the game wore on, the fastball started creeping up in the zone. There was a time when the velo dipped down to 88-90, but the next inning it was back up to 92-94 consistently. His fastball command was good, not great. The umpire in this game had a tight zone, especially the upper part of the zone.
Murdock used his aforementioned change up a lot. I’m not sure if Virginia catcher’s call their own games or if the coaches do, but there was a time he threw three in a row and four out of five pitches. His change has a lot of armside run when he throws it down in the zone. But, like his fastball, the pitch started creeping up in the zone and as it did, it flattened and lost movement. Part of this is because Murdock is 6’8″ tall and it is naturally hard to throw this pitch down consistently. The other part is probably more fatigue than anything else.
I didn’t see many sliders or curves. Miami ran out a predominately LHH lineup so the change is naturally the pitch to use more for Murdock. The curve had 11-5 break if you are behind the catcher. It had good spin and decent depth. I just wish he threw it early in counts more often. The slider had more horizontal break and not as much vertical break. He didn’t throw it much. I’d like to see it used in on LHHs to try to get their hands or on their back foot.
I definitely see why the Royals like Murdock though. He is an experienced Friday night starter from a strong baseball school with a big arm and four pitches. The only problem is he throws way to many pitches to batters and gets into deep counts far too often. As the article mentioned above, Murdock is going to have to become more efficient with his pitches if he wants to stay as a starter in pro ball. This may also be something he just hasn’t gotten past with his surgery. I’ve seen command be one of the last things to come back for TJ guys so I’m not overly worried. Murdock could be a strong reliever but could be a very good starter if the command locks in. We’ll see how he develops in the Royals system going forward and if the command tightens up.
Photo Credits: Andrew Shurtleff, The Daily Progress