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Murphy starts pro career with .358 average

Clark Murphy’s baseball during 2008 included not only his senior season at Fallbrook High School but also his professional debut. While he will continue the year in the Arizona Instructional League, his first professional season ended with a .358 batting average for the Surprise Rangers of the Arizona League.

“I’m really happy. The year went well for me, especially the fact that I got in there late and I was able to start off hot,” Murphy said.

Murphy was selected as the Fallbrook High School’s Most Valuable Player for 2008 and was also the Warriors’ Silver Slugger recipient.

“I was very proud of him for the way he was able to handle the spotlight being on him all season long,” said Fallbrook High School head varsity baseball coach Jesse Schuveiller. “It was awesome to have a player of his caliber on our team.”

Murphy played some of his freshman season on Fallbrook’s junior varsity squad but was essentially on the Warrior varsity all four years as a first baseman and outfielder. Murphy did not play any other sports in high school.

The lifelong Fallbrook resident also participated in Fallbrook Youth Baseball from the T-ball years through Pony League. Murphy was homeschooled until entering Fallbrook High School. “I went to Fallbrook High School to play baseball,” he said.

In November 2007 Murphy had signed a letter of intent to play the sport at UCLA, but 40 minutes before his June 5 graduation from Fallbrook High School he received the telephone call that he had been selected by the Texas Rangers in the fifth round of the draft.

“The Texas Rangers was a team I wanted to go to, and I was happy when I finally got the call,” Murphy said. “It was an amazing moment. The whole night was something I’ll never forget.”

Rangers scout Steve Flores made the recommendation to draft Murphy. “He’s mature beyond his age,” Flores said. “He doesn’t run away from anything.”

Murphy had sought a $250,000 signing bonus plus a promise from the Rangers to pay his tuition to a University of California school. “If I get hurt or I’m not good enough, then I have that UC education to fall back upon,” Murphy said of the tuition clause.

Eventually he agreed to $200,000 plus the tuition agreement. “The compromise was met,” he said. “It wasn’t worth sitting out all summer.”

The signing was not approved by all parties until July 23. “It just took longer than I was hoping it was going to take,” Murphy said.

“He always wanted to play,” Flores said. “It was just a matter of when and how much.”

Flores lives in Temecula and was able to monitor Murphy, who worked out in a batting cage two to three times a week while the negotiations were taking place. That allowed Murphy to work on drills and correct some mechanical drawbacks. “It was actually a blessing in disguise,” Flores said of Murphy’s late signing.

“I just think it’s a tremendous honor for him to be drafted out of high school, and it shows what happens when you combine your talent with a dedicated work ethic,” Schuveiller said. “He never really does take a day off, and I think it’s a tribute to him. Because of his hard work, that’s why he got drafted.”

Although Murphy missed the start of the short-season Arizona League, he made his professional debut July 29 against the Peoria Padres as Surprise’s designated hitter. He had three hits and a walk in his four plate appearances that day, contributing to Surprise’s 5-4 win over the Padres.

Murphy would end up with hits in his first four professional at-bats. He had two hits in four at-bats July 31 to end July with a .714 batting average.

“Cooled off a little bit in August, then ended the season pretty strong,” Murphy said.

A .330 batting average for the month of August may be considered “cooling off” compared to a .714 average, but Murphy hit at least .300 during various other statistical breakdowns. The left-handed hitter batted .313 in 16 at-bats against left-handed pitchers and .367 against right-handed pitchers. He hit .391 at home and .327 during road games.

Murphy’s overall .358 average consisted of 34 hits in 95 at-bats. He scored 13 runs while driving in 21. His hits included seven doubles, three triples, and a home run.

His home run took place August 23 against the Peoria Mariners; the solo shot came off pitcher Randy Castillo. Murphy also had a two-run triple and a two-run single that day to drive in five runs, and he also advanced two runners with a groundout to first base.

Murphy also stole a base and walked 12 times while striking out on 19 occasions. He compiled a .435 on-base percentage and a .526 slugging percentage.

“It was a good year for me,” Murphy said.

“He’s turned out to have the makings of a pretty good hitter,” Flores said.

“It’s exciting. It was a good start,” Murphy said. “I’m looking forward to the future.”

The future includes participation in the Arizona Instructional League this fall, and he will likely spend 2009 with a full-season Class A team. “A lot of it’s going to depend on my spring training,” he said of his 2009 assignment.

“I just want to thank God for the opportunity that he’s given me and my family for supporting me all the way, my parents especially,” Murphy said.

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