Five Stars of the Cubs Farm, 5/19/23: The One About BJ Murray

We’re going to zoom through everything until the section about the top dog today, because B.J. Murray’s month deserves its own post here.

But you know I can’t help spend a few words on a handful of others…

FIVE: JACKSON FERRIS

Fastball heavy and mostly inefficient two-inning and 46-pitch outing for the second-round pick, but he was still plenty impressive, with 3 strikeouts against one hit. Showed plus life on the fastball, even at about 92 mph, and got a strikeout on a really good curveball that shows distinct movement separation from his sweeping slider.

FOUR: CHASE STRUMPF

Up to .256/.458/.512 in May, and importantly, a 23.7 K%. Playing some very solid second base defense. I’d say he’s ready for Iowa, but if I’m saying the same thing about Nick Madrigal (going the other direction), I don’t know where the playing time comes from.

THREE: EZEQUIEL PAGÁN

Six three-hit games in 18 total contests for the 22 year old. Quickly becoming the best player on the team, though they had a full team effort in last night’s 13-5 win. And this team should also be adding both Ed Howard and Moises Ballesteros pretty soon.

TWO: TYLER SANTANA AND JORDAN WICKS

Santana was the best pitcher on the farm last night, but Wicks’ continued hot streak is the more interesting discussion point. Last 6 starts for Wicks: 29 IP, 15 H, 1.86 ERA, 6 BB, 33 K. Only damage last night was a solo home run against a left-handed hitter on a hung 82 mph breaking ball, with the only other hit coming on a perfect second-inning bunt. Wicks just seems like a man ultra-confident in his pitch mix right now, finding the right time to get called strikes on fastballs thrown near corners. You’d like to see him stretched just a little more, as the lefty is still yet to get more than 15 outs in a start as a professional. Once that gets crossed off the list — and there’s no reason it couldn’t have last night, as he only threw 71 pitches — then we should start thinking about Iowa.

ONE: BJ Murray

So, let’s first just run through the ridiculous stuff that this man is doing lately.

After reaching base four more times last night, the 23-year-old has now made it to (at least) first base 11 of 17 times in Tennessee’s current series in Pensacola. He hit his seventh home run of the season last night in his 36th game, a home run total that took him 87 games to reach in 2022.

And during a now-27-game on-base streak, Murray is slashing a rather ridiculous .347/.466/.705.

He’s going to win the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month in May, and one of your friends is going to ask you, “who the heck is BJ Murray?” Here’s what you should say:

Came into the year as the Cubs #47 prospect, but since joining the organization as a 15th-round pick in 2021, a guy who just keeps getting better. He’s filling out his 5-foot-11, 205-pound frame with better weight these days, notably has not made an error at third base yet this year. He’s a menace against opposing pitchers: very patient early in a count, and pesky with his two-strike approach, drawing walks like crazy. Swing on left side is better than right side, but in both cases, does a good job holding his weight back and utilizing his good hands with some whip behind it.

Overall, Murray is now up to a .290/.422/.581/175 wRC+ slash line over his first 154 PAs at Double-A.

He’s probably a top 25-30 prospect in the system now, but it’s okay to still think of his likeliest future as a bench role. The walk rates do create a pretty high offensive floor that somewhat mitigates the otherwise tweener profile, and the swing decisions continuing to excel against better stuff in Double-A is quite interesting. You can see a path to talking yourself into it. The Cubs front office is beginning to wonder, I can promise you.

Started the year as Tennessee’s tenth man, but he’s more than that now, a priority to play everyday. There’s no rushing his development given his Rule 5 timeline, so he’ll probably spend the whole year in Tennessee. Maybe they’ll explore more positions (a brief experiment at second base, proposed by this one idiot Bryan Smith, yielded ugly results in April), or maybe they’re happy to just keep him comfortable and hitting everything in sight.

written by

Bryan Smith is a Minor League Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @cubprospects.

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