Jayden Murray is a player Astros fans need to get to know quickly
The Astros made multiple moves at the trade deadline in 2022 in an attempt to win the World Series, landing Cristian Vazquez and Trey Mancini. While they addressed their areas of need and did in fact take home a championship, it was a lesser known piece of a deal that may have the longest lasting impact in Houston.
In their three-team trade that landed Trey Mancini, the Astros sent Jose Siri to Tampa Bay for a little known arm--Jayden Murray. The 23rd rounder may not be heavily known yet, but Astros fans should get to know him quickly.
He's not an established pitching prospect like Whitley was, but we've seen up close those don't always pan out. We've also seen arms like Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia emerge from seemingly out of nowhere to become all-star level MLB pitchers. It's early, and this is the bold take of all bold takes, but Jayden Murray will be their next all-star pitcher.
We tabbed him as a pitching prospect to watch this Spring and he has more than lived up to the hype we threw his way.
After throwing four scoreless innings today in his first start of the Spring, Murray has now combined for eight shutout innings this Spring. He's yielded only two hits and two walks to go along with six strikeouts. While eight innings is a small sample size, his minor league success gives much to get excited about.
In 2021, Murray led all levels of minor league baseball with a 0.71 WHIP and .150 opponent batting average. He posted a 2.16 ERA in 2021.
Murray's ERA did climb a bit in 2022, though he posted a respectable 3.50 ERA that was inflated after coming to Houston in the trade. He had a 1.1 WHIP and 2.83 ERA with Durham, but struggled a bit with Corpus Christi, posting a 1.29 WHIP and 4.28 ERA.
He has looked every bit as promising this spring as the prospect he was in 2021. Though he didn't make the top-30 list of Astros prospects for Baseball America, they did name him as a prospect to watch.
Murray has five pitches in his arsenal, most notably, a sweeping slider with over a foot of horizontal break. Astros pitchers make a living on sliders. Names like Verlander, McCullers, Pressly, McHugh and more have harnessed devastating sliders ("sweepers") during their time in Houston. That it was already Murray's best pitch is appealing as he could take it to an even higher level with some fine tuning.
Baseball America called him the Astros #18 prospect in-season last year, pointing out his propensity to fill-up the zone with strikes.
"He fills the zone with his fastball, slider and changeup. Overall, he threw strikes on 67.5% of all his pitches, ranking in the top 10% of all MiLB pitchers with 90+ innings. Murray is not a soft-tossing command specialist, as his 93-96 mph above-average fastball touched 97 at his best. His sweepy low-80s above-average slider pairs well with it. He also shows confidence in his fringe-average, hard 86-89 mph changeup. Murray's success is largely based on his plus-plus control. His ability to throw all three pitches for strikes in any count makes it hard for hitters to know what is coming."- Baseball America
Murray won't break camp with the big league club, though he likely will begin the season in Sugar Land. Expect a quick rise from there.
The Astros have had an embarrassment of riches with pitching for years. Names with hype like Whitley, Martin and Bukauskas haven't panned out, while lesser heralded arms have become Houston's next big things. Expect Jayden Murray to be next in line. You're looking at the next Astros All-Star pitcher.