HE PLAYS first base in an organization that's packed like a Tokyo subway with first basemen.
Lakewood's Jim Murphy knows. He also knows his dream is to play in the big leagues someday and he's not ready to give that up.
And who could blame him? Murphy leads the South Atlantic League in RBI (43) and is second in homers (13). What's more, he's riding a 15-game hitting streak that has lifted his average from .242 to .289.
What's he doing differently these days? Easy.
"I like to keep things simple and not to think too much when I'm up there," said Murphy, a 6-4, 240-pounder who grew up near Seattle rooting for the Mariners and Jay Buhner. "I think I just have a better approach now. Just try to make hard contact gap-to-gap and don't try to hit home runs every time. In the first part of the season, my average was under .200 and I had like two home runs."
He's mixed in 19 doubles, giving him 32 extra-base hits. And that's one reason the Phillies haven't given up on him, since power is a rare commodity in any organization.
Murphy is 25, the elder statesman on a club filled with guys 4 and 5 years younger. He spent 2009 at Lakewood, hit 14 homers, knocked in 67 runs and hit a healthy .279. That earned him a promotion to Clearwater, where he spent last season. But a .239 showing with six homers and 43 RBI left the organization - and him - with some decisions to make.
"[The Phillies] said they wanted me to go back and get to where I was in Lakewood in '09," Murphy said. "Plus, they signed some guys who needed playing time, so they really didn't have a roster spot for me. They told me they didn't want to get rid of me, that they liked my power. I wanted to play another season and I wanted to go to another spring training, so I went back to Lakewood."
A quick inventory of first basemen in the Phillies system: Clearwater has halted the leftfield experiment and moved top prospect Jonathan Singleton back to first. The Threshers also have still-hot Joe Savery. At Reading, Matt Rizzotti and Cody Overbeck continue to carpet-bomb Double A pitching. Power-hitting veterans Jeff Larish and Tagg Bozied currently reside at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Of course, there's a guy named Ryan Howard occupying the right side of the big club's infield.
Yeah, it's a big list. Murphy is taking care of what he can control: his performance, his approach and his attitude.
Does he see himself in the show someday?
"I hope so," he said. "I still have confidence in myself. It's always been my dream."
TUFFY GETS GOING
Shane Victorino was on a rehab assignment at Reading last Wednesday, so this tidbit kind of slipped through. Catcher Tuffy Gosewisch had a career-high six RBI, including the first grand slam of his 6-year pro career, in a 12-9 win over visiting Akron, Cleveland's Double A affiliate.
Gosewisch, in his third season with the R-Phils, is having by far his best season at the plate (.271, five homers, 27 RBI). But let's be clear: Tuffy's 27 and hasn't made the jump to Triple A. If he ever makes it to the bigs, it won't be with his bat. He's regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in the system, and his ability to call a game drew raves in spring training from several of the Phillies' varsity pitchers.
Austin Hyatt's season got off to a swell start, as was well-documented here. Recently, however, the only swell thing about Hyatt had been his swelling ERA.
Until Friday. That's when Hyatt, 24, churned out seven shutout innings in a 5-0 victory at Richmond. Hyatt (6-3, 3.90) whiffed eight, allowed four hits and walked only one against the Giants' affiliate. Before Friday, the righthander was 0-2 in his three previous starts, allowing 12 earned runs in 13 innings.
One other thing: Highly touted righthander Tyler Cloyd made his Double A debut in that contest. He allowed a hit and struck out one. Cloyd, 24, was 3-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 13 games (five starts) at high-Class A Clearwater before he was promoted Thursday. Cloyd had an impressive 39 strikeouts and only seven walks in 39 innings with the Threshers.
ALL IN A MAY'S WORK
Stud-in-training Trevor May had a career outing Thursday for Clearwater. May (4-2, 3.54) went eight innings, struck out a season-high 12, allowed two hits and a unearned run in a 7-1 win over the St. Lucie Mets. May, 21, a 6-5 righty, has 80 strikeouts - good for second in the Florida State League through the weekend.
HEY, WE KNOW HIM
Spotted a local guy on the transactions wire. Mike McGuire was assigned to Clearwater Thursday. The big righty (and we mean 6-7, 240 pounds big) hadn't pitched this season due to offseason surgery to remove a blood clot in his left arm (his non-pitching wing).
He made his Threshers debut Saturday and it was a goodie: 2 innings, no runs, a hit and four punchouts in a 11-5 win over the Dunedin Blue Jays.
A little background: McGuire, 24, is a 2004 Ridley High grad who starred for the University of Delaware. Cleveland grabbed him in the 43rd round in the 2008 draft and was released before last season. He hooked on with the Sussex (N.J.) Skyhawks of the independent Can-Am Association, pitched in eight games and the Phillies signed him as a minor league free agent. He went 1-1 with six saves and a 2.67 ERA last summer at Lakewood.
ON THE FARM
Lehigh Valley (AAA - 35-21)
Tonight: vs. Durham, 7:05
Tomorrow: vs. Durham, 7:05
Thursday: vs. Durham, 7:05
Friday: vs. Durham, 7:05
Saturday: vs. Louisville, 6:35
Sunday: vs. Louisville, 1:35
Monday: vs. Louisville, 7:05
Reading (AA - 29-26)
Tonight: vs. Trenton, 7:05
Tomorrow: vs. Trenton, 7:05
Thursday: vs. Trenton, 7:05
Friday: vs. Altoona, 7:05
Saturday: vs. Altoona, 6:35
Sunday: vs. Altoona, 1:05
Clearwater (A - 36-21)
Tonight: vs. Tampa, 7
Thursday: at Tampa, 7
Friday: at Tampa, 7
Saturday: at Daytona, 7:05
Sunday: at Daytona, 5:35
Monday: at Daytona, 7:05
Lakewood (A - 28-28)
Today: at Hickory, 11 a.m.
Thursday: vs. West Virginia, 7:05
Friday: vs. West Virginia, 7:05
Saturday: vs. West Virginia, 7:05
Sunday: vs. Hagerstown, 4:05