Orioles take Calvert Hall catcher Alex Murphy in the sixth round of baseball's draft

Growing up near Mount Airy, Alex Murphy frequented Harry Grove Stadium to watch Frederick Keys games.

A lifelong Orioles fan, Murphy would make the trek to Camden Yards to see the big league team play as well.

Now, after being drafted by the Orioles in the sixth round with the No. 189 pick of baseball's first-year player draft Friday, the Calvert Hall catcher has a chance to join the players in the same ballparks he visited in his childhood.

"It took the breath out of me," Murphy said in a telephone interview after he was chosen. "It's such a fantastic feeling knowing that you grow up watching the O's and eventually wanting to play there one day, and now the opportunity's here. I'm going to seize the opportunity, and I can't wait to be up there in the next couple years."

The Gatorade Maryland Baseball Player of the Year, Murphy had committed to Wake Forest, but he made it clear Friday that he plans to sign with the Orioles and begin his professional career.

"I'm going to sign," he said. "I've worked my whole life to get this opportunity, and I'm going to take advantage of it."

The slot bonus money for the 189th pick is $218,500.

Murphy was the third high school catcher the Orioles drafted over the first six rounds of the draft. They took a college catcher in the 10th round in an obvious attempt to bolster their depth at the position in the organization.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Murphy started at catcher for four years at Calvert Hall, winning two Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference titles and reaching the championship in the other two years.

He's the highest player ever drafted out of the school, surpassing left-hander Joe Gast, who was taken by the Orioles in the 13th round in 1985.

"It's extremely exciting," longtime Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl said. "It's so nice to see somebody with talent and then somebody who works so hard to develop that talent and have success like this. Alex just did a phenomenal job for us."

The Orioles drafted two local high school players in last year's draft — Old Mill pitcher Josh Hader in the 19th round and Gilman first baseman Ryan Ripken in the 20th. (Ripken, the son of Cal Ripken Jr., didn't sign.)

"It's a good area. There's good baseball around here," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. "It's good to sign a local kid, because when the local boys do well, it paves the road for another generation of pro ballplayers."

On Murphy, Duquette said: "He's a big, strong kid. He has good range behind the plate. He has a quick delivery to second base. He comes from a good program, and we're happy to have him.

Murphy, a Monrovia native, became the first player to be drafted directly out of Calvert Hall since the New York Yankees picked right-hander Justin Nash in the 42nd round in 1998. Nash spurned the Yankees to play for Penn State.

Murphy said Orioles scouts hinted at interest in drafting him in conversations leading up to Friday. And as he gathered with friends and family at a local restaurant, the phone rang with the Orioles on the line.

Murphy played in this year's Brooks Robinson All-Star Game at Camden Yards, where Orioles manager Buck Showalter caught a glimpse of him Sunday and says he was impressed.

The last two Calvert Hall players to make appearances in the major leagues were infielder Phil Linz, who batted .235 in seven seasons from 1962-69, and right-hander Dave Boswell, who was 68-56 with a 3.52 ERA in eight seasons from 1964-71. Boswell spent part of his final season with the Orioles and is the only former Calvert Hall player to appear for the team.

The last time the Orioles drafted a player directly from Calvert Hall was 1993, when they selected Josh Itzoe in the 40th round. He didn't sign with the team.

"We're just very fortunate to have players that are passionate about baseball and come to Calvert Hall to play there," Eckerl said. "We're happy for all the successes that they have."

The draft concludes with Rounds 11-40 today, beginning at 1 p.m.


Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.

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