Kyler Murray had the chance to be one of the Oakland A’s top prospects before choosing a career in the NFL. What type of prospect would he have been?
For a time, there was seemingly no doubt that Kyler Murray would be a part of the Oakland A’s organization. He was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, and appeared to be ready to embark on his professional baseball journey. However, he wanted to get football out of his system, playing one more season at the University of Oklahoma.
That season ended up being better than anyone could have imagined. Murray dominated en route to winning the Heisman Trophy, causing him to declare for the NFL Draft. He reneged on his commitment to the A’s, and instead was selected with the first overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals.
But what if that had not happened? What if Murray just had an average year at Oklahoma, and honored his commitment to the A’s? What kind of prospect would Murray have been?
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His raw talent alone was enough for Murray to be ranked as the 101st best prospect in baseball by Baseball Prospectus. He had already been considered an intriguing talent out of high school, but declined to declare for the 2015 MLB Draft due to his commitment to play college football. While teams kept tabs on Murray, he broke out as a top prospect with his performance for Oaklahoma in 2018, hitting ten homers and stealing ten bases in 51 games.
The key word for Murray was raw. Individually, he had all the tools – he had plenty of speed and a strong throwing arm from center. His bat held plenty of raw power. But he was also behind in terms of his development due to having to split time between baseball and football. It was easy to dream of what Murray could be, but it would take patience to unlock his potential.
Chances are, the A’s would have had to take their time with Murray, slowly bringing him through the minors. He only had two years of experience in the outfield, having played short all through high school. His hit tool needed refinement, as Murray would have had to work diligently in order to improve both his approach at the plate and his pitch recognition. It is possible that Murray could have been a star, but it is equally possible that he could have been a colossal bust.
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It is interesting to think of what Kyler Murray could have been with the Oakland A’s. However, given how he was an extremely raw prospect when it came to baseball, he was the ultimate boom or bust player.