Chris Murphy began last season with the Portland Sea Dogs, earned a promotion to Triple-A Worcester, then was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November. Now he hopes to get a chance to make his major league debut sometime this year. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Boston Red Sox prospect Chris Murphy watched Kutter Crawford and Josh Winckowski combine to pitch in 36 games, including 26 starts, for the 2022 Red Sox during their first season on the 40-man roster.

The Red Sox added Murphy, a left-handed starter, to their 40-man roster in November, protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft. He knows he has a similar opportunity this year to what Crawford and Winckowski took advantage after being protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

“Watching someone like Winckowski go up and down last year or Kutter go up and down, you have more opportunities being on the 40-man,” Murphy said. “So definitely excited for that.”

Both Murphy and Brandon Walter – another talented lefty protected in November – have a chance to contribute as depth starters or relievers if the need arises.

Brayan Bello should make the most impact among Boston’s young starters, but he’s no longer considered a prospect after totaling 57 1/3 innings in the big leagues last year.

Although Murphy feels “a little bit closer” to the big leagues now that he’s on the 40-man roster, he still knows he’s not there yet. He and Walter are expected to begin the season in Triple-A Worcester’s starting rotation.


“So it’s more we’re still working for that ultimate goal. Not settled yet,” he said.

Murphy spent much of his offseason in Northern California. He trained at a couple of different places, including the University of California and Driveline Baseball.

The 24-year-old – a 2019 sixth-round draft pick out of the University of San Diego – said he worked on commanding all his pitches better, especially his fastball.

“And then adding some velo to my cutter. Some more horizontal movement on it,” Murphy said. “Throwing everything a little bit harder. Just more commanding my pitches and doing what I need to do early in counts.”

Murphy packed on five pounds, which might not sound like much, but the southpaw always has had difficulty gaining weight.

“Got more explosive, a little bit stronger,” he said. “So I think explosiveness is key for me, and using my body properly and moving the right way on the mound. And staying healthy all year.”


His fastball gets swings-and-misses because it has good carry and plays up in the zone. As he recently explained to, he has “vertical break, good two-plane, and a pretty decent vertical approach angle.”

“His velo continues to kind of tick up,” Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said. “A four-seam fastball that gets swings and misses up in the strike zone. Good changeup. Mixes in a curveball as well. Just someone with really good pitchability. A guy who can work both sides of the plate.”

How did he increase his explosiveness?

“I did a lot of jumping,” Murphy said. “I did a lot of fast movements with some weight. Not necessarily a lot of weight, but also complementing that with heavier lifts as well. Whether it’s a heavy squat or heavy dumbbell bench or whatever it may be.”

The 2022 season was a good learning experience for Murphy.

He started off strong for Double-A Portland, posting a 2.58 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and .170 batting average against in 15 outings (13 starts). He struggled at times after a promotion to Worcester (5.50 ERA, 15 starts).


“Definitely learned that if you don’t get ahead in that league (Triple-A), you’re going to struggle a little bit,” Murphy said. “You’re facing five, six big leaguers in a lineup. And the other three guys are prospects or guys that have been in Triple-A for a long time and have that experience. So you’re facing a well-rounded lineup and it’s more of attacking early, being who you are as a pitcher and not backing down from that. So that’s something that I need to carry over into this season.”

Murphy has chatted about pitching with Chris Sale, Nick Pivetta and James Paxton this spring.

“I’ve talked about some things with Pivetta, just in terms of pitch sequencing and how to go about things,” Murphy said. “Also, just sitting back and watching guys throw bullpens. Watching (Garrett) Whitlock. He’s really fun to watch. Watching a guy like Wink, who commands the zone very well. Watching him a lot.

“I played catch with Paxton and (watched) how well he uses his body,” Murphy added. “I picked his brain a little bit. I talked to Sale a little bit. Just being more curious more than anything. Not trying to step on their toes or ask too many questions. But say, ‘Hey, what do you see here? What do you see there?’”

Murphy said some of the best advice he received last year is “to be seen and not heard as you work your way up.”

“Being a young guy, 24 years old, I’m not going to be the leader in the clubhouse or be that vocal guy,” he said. “But just to go out there and do your thing, stick to your routine and keep with your processes. I would talk to Kutter and Wink a good amount of the time. And just talk about how you have to maintain your process. No matter where you’re playing, stay true to yourself and do what you need to do.”


Crawford learned the importance of staying true to himself last year. He has said he got away from the way he pitches when started the 2022 season in Boston’s bullpen. He realized he was moving too fast and trying to throw too hard. Slowing his mechanics down helped him get back to being a strike thrower.

Murphy wasn’t worried about Boston’s decision on whether to add him or not to the 40-man roster. The Red Sox had tough choices to make. They added five prospects but still lost three players (Thaddeus Ward, Noah Song and A.J. Politi) to other teams in the Rule 5 Draft.

“That day, it was more along the lines of whatever happens, happens; it is what it is,” he said. “I felt pretty good if it were to come down to the Rule 5. I wasn’t worried. I felt pretty confident in myself in that I did what I needed to do: stayed healthy, threw 150 innings, and proved I can stay on the field. And I’ve done that every season. So I think that’s a factor as well.”

SO FAR IN spring training, the Red Sox simply can’t lose. No, really… they haven’t lost. At 8-0-3, Boston is the last remaining undefeated team in spring training play. It turns out the club has made some franchise history in the process.

According to the team, this is the longest spring training unbeaten streak against major league opponents. Back in 1951, they won 11 straight exhibition games, with the first eight coming against minor league opponents and the final three coming against the Boston Braves.

There are some encouraging numbers, as well. Red Sox pitchers lead spring training teams in ERA (3.00), WHIP (1.21), and opponent average (.189). The Sox lead the Grapefruit League in runs scored (77). Outfielder Raimel Tapia leads the majors in doubles (5) and is tied for the lead in extra-base hits (6). First baseman Triston Casas leads the Grapefruit League lead in runs scored (8).

Offensively, a lot of players have started camp hot. Alex Verdugo (5 for 9), Jorge Alfaro (7 for 10, 2 2B), Tapia (7 for 17, 5 2B, HR), Bobby Dalbec (6 for 17, HR, 3 2B), Casas (8 for 18, 2 HR, 6 RBI) and Christian Arroyo (6 for 19, 2 HR, 7 RBI) are among them. On the pitching side, depth starters Kutter Crawford and Josh Winckowski have looked good (5 scoreless innings each).

So what does it all mean?

Very little, most likely. The Red Sox roster that has contributed to most of their wins so far looks much different than the 26-man group that will take the field on March 30 against the Orioles. There is usually little correlation between spring training results and regular-season records. In 2022, the Sox started spring training with six straight wins before finishing a shortened spring with an 11-8 record. That club, of course, finished in last place in the American League East with a 78-84 record.

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