Murphy boasts family ties with Crew's top SS prospect

February 28th, 2024

PHOENIX -- When you've been in baseball for 40 years like Pat Murphy has, you're going to have a wealth of connections, big and small.

It just so happens that those connections keep popping up at Brewers Spring Training, and in unexpected ways.

Like how the Brewers manager FaceTimed Rudy from his daily media session on Tuesday. Yes, Rudy from the movie "Rudy," Rudy Ruettiger, who Murphy knows from his days coaching baseball at Notre Dame from 1988-94.

On Wednesday, there was a new Pat Murphy Connection of the Day: 19-year-old Cooper Pratt, one of Milwaukee's youngest shortstop prospects, who the Brewers brought over from Minor League camp and had suit up as No. 88 in their Cactus League game.

Pratt's just a year out of high school, and now he could get the chance to face big leaguers while he's at Spring Training.

"I want to hit so bad," Pratt said. "I want to get in a plate appearance so bad ... Dude, I'm hoping it happens. If I get a hit my first at-bat, I'm going to be pretty pumped, I'm not going to lie. My smile won't leave my face."

The Brewers drafted Pratt in the sixth round last year, 182nd overall, out of Magnolia Heights High School in Mississippi. But he's a lot more promising than your typical sixth-round Draft pick -- Pratt was ranked as the No. 45 prospect going into the 2023 Draft by MLB Pipeline. And he hit .356 in Rookie ball, finishing the year as the Brewers' No. 10 prospect.

So it's no wonder Milwaukee wants to get a look at him now. And guess what? The Brewers' skipper already knows the Pratts.

"I have a connection with the family -- you guys might be shocked by that," Murphy joked. "His uncle played for me."

Cooper's uncle, Trent Pratt, played under Murphy at Arizona State over two decades ago. Of course he did.

Trent, a catcher, came to ASU in 1999, the fifth season of Murphy's 15-year tenure as head coach from 1995-2009. He went on to be drafted by the Phillies and played four seasons in the Minor Leagues.

Cooper could go even further in his own playing career.

"I'm excited. I've been hearing about this kid," Murphy said. "I was excited when we drafted him. I know what kind of family he's from, I know what kind of people they are."

Murphy also knows Cooper's other uncle, Scott Pratt, who was an infielder at Auburn and played in the Minors, too. And he knows Pratt's grandparents, who told Cooper about Murphy's family ties when he was named Brewers manager in November. ("Small world," Cooper remembers thinking.)

But on the baseball field, Cooper doesn't remind Murphy of his uncles. Cooper's build -- 6-foot-4, 195 pounds -- and demeanor actually remind the Brewers manager of Alan Trammell.

"I've watched him on the back fields the last two days. He looks great," Murphy said. "I've got a couple of old-time players that he looks like -- you can see Alan Trammell in there, you know what I mean? You just kind of look at him like that. I don't want to put that on the poor kid, that's a lot. But he's got a great look to him, a great body language."

That was one reason the Brewers jumped on Pratt in the 2023 Draft and gave him a $1.35 million bonus to get him signed, which was well over his slot value. Pratt's frame makes him a highly projectable power-hitting prospect. He also had among the best bat-to-ball skills and strike zone awareness in his high school Draft class. Scouts compared him to Orioles rising star Gunnar Henderson.

Even with all that, no, Murphy's not saying Pratt has to play like a Hall of Famer in Trammell.

"I don't mean skill-wise. I've never seen the kid play," Murphy said. "I'm just saying the way he stands out there. You'll see what I'm talking about."

For now, Pratt's just happy to be around the big league club, sharing a dugout with players who have already made it in The Show -- and who he could be following to the Majors soon.

"It's cool to see the Christian Yeliches, the Rhys Hoskinses, the stars you see on TV," Pratt said. "You have to blink twice to say, 'Oh, they're real.' I love these guys, I see them on TV all the time. It's a really cool experience for sure."