ATLANTA -- Owen Murphy will soon have a chance to follow in the footsteps of Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright and others who have tasted success after being taken with the Braves’ first selection in the MLB Draft.
The Braves took Murphy with the 20th overall selection on Sunday and agreed to a deal with the right-handed pitcher with an under-slot $2.56 million signing bonus on Friday. The assigned slot value was $3.41 million. Atlanta can use the $850,000 difference to help sign any other players the club selected within the first 10 rounds.
Murphy was recently named Illinois’ Gatorade Player of the Year. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound two-way athlete posted a 0.12 ERA with 137 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings, while also batting .548 with 18 homers during his senior season at Riverside-Brookfield (Ill.) High School.
JR Ritchie, who was taken by the Braves with the 35th overall pick, also signed on Friday after agreeing to a $2.4 million signing bonus, which was $196,800 above the slot value. Ritchie had been committed to UCLA.
The Braves have also signed both of their second-round selections -- right-handed pitchers Cole Phillips and Blake Burkhalter; their third-round pick catcher Drake Baldwin; and their sixth-round pick right-handed pitcher Seth Keller.
A few days before the Draft began, the Braves traded three prospects, including top prospect Drew Waters, to the Royals in exchange for the 35th overall pick and an additional $2.2 million in bonus pool money.
Some of the additional bonus pool flexibility was used to sign Keller, who received a $697,500 bonus. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound hurler received $422,400 over slot to forgo his commitment to Old Dominion University and begin his pro career.
Phillips, who was throwing 100 mph before undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, received a $1,497,500 signing bonus, which was $667,600 more than the assigned slot value. Meanwhile, Burkhalter’s great season as Auburn’s closer gained him a $647,500 signing bonus, which was $860,100 below the assigned slot value.