The Athletics announced today that minor league right-hander Sean Murphy has died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 27. A former 33rd-round draft pick, Murphy was recovering from 2014 Tommy John surgery prior to his untimely passing. He pitched 490 2/3 innings with a 4.26 ERA in parts of five minor league seasons with Oakland. Current and former teammates have taken to social media to express both disbelief and sadness at the news, and MLBTR joins the many in the industry offering its sincerest condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of a young man who is gone from the world far too soon.
A few notes from around the division…
- The Angels received a pair of health updates on left-handers Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs yesterday. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that Heaney, on the disabled list due to a flexor strain in his left arm, received another MRI after progress in his rehab was said to have plateaued. The test revealed no further injury in his arm and upheld the original diagnosis of a strained flexor muscle. However, Heaney has yet to resume throwing, so he’ll need to progress through a throwing program before embarking on a minor league rehab assignment, which suggests that a return in the near future shouldn’t be expected.
- As for Skaggs, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes that the 24-year-old was scratched from his start for Triple-A Salt Lake yesterday because he was “feeling some fatigue” from last Wednesday’s outing, in the words of Angels GM Billy Eppler. Asked if Skaggs would make his next scheduled start on Saturday, Eppler was noncommittal, telling Gonzalez that the club would take a day-to-day approach and “continue to be extra cautious with him.” Skaggs had Tommy John surgery late in the 2014 campaign and missed the entire 2015 season rehabbing from the procedure.
- Yahoo’s Tim Brown spoke to Mariners first baseman Dae-ho Lee about the difficult decision he made to jump to leave superstardom in Asia to test himself in Major League Baseball. Lee, who batted .303/.387/.514 with 323 homers in 15 seasons between the Korea Baseball Organization and Nippon Professional Baseball, explained that he’s dreamed of playing in the Majors since childhood but elected to go to Japan when his first crack at free agency in Korea arose. “I had a little opportunity before but I didn’t make my decision to challenge the major leagues,” he said through his translator. “I wanted to learn more. So I decided to go to Japan and learn more baseball.” Countryman and division rival Ji-man Choi called Lee’s decision to make the jump to the Majors at age 33 inspirational to him and other Korean players. Lee has started six times in 19 games as the left-handed component of a platoon with Adam Lind, and he’s batting .235/.316/.588 with a pair of homers in 19 plate appearances.
- Colby Rasmus’ improved selectivity and gains in contact rate have him on the precipice of a breakout season, opines Chris Perry of SB Nation’s Crawfish Boxes. Perry notes that while Rasmus, of course, isn’t going to sustain his current 56-homer pace, the early power surge and improved approach at the plate make the first 30-homer season of Rasmus’ career a distinct possibility.