Wander toward the back-right corner of the Red Sox clubhouse and you’ll see the lockers of the team’s three best upper-level pitching prospects right next to each other.
From left to right are lefties Brandon Walter and Chris Murphy, then righty Bryan Mata.
If that clubhouse layout is somewhat by design, Red Sox manager Alex Cora took it a step further in Sunday’s home Grapefruit League game against the Rays when he pitched them one inning each -- consecutively.
The results? Murphy, Boston’s No. 15 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was first out of the gate, setting down all three batters he faced, including one strikeout. Up next was No. 7 prospect Mata, who worked around a walk and struck out one in his scoreless inning. Walter, ranked No. 8 in the system, capped the day by striking out two of the three batters he faced.
“They’re almost here,” an enthused Cora said. “You start looking at other teams and you can start matching up our stuff with their kids, right? It’s been a while that we haven’t matched up with [the Rays] in these games with young kids throwing stuff at you. And we threw stuff at them today, and it was a good day for the organization.”
Murphy has the most powerful stuff of the three, and his ongoing goal is to improve his control. Mata might have already been in the Majors if not for Tommy John surgery, which wiped away his 2021 season and limited him to 18 starts last year.
Walter, whom the Red Sox took in the 26th round of the 2019 Draft due to the arm problems he had in college, had a brilliant ’21 season in Boston’s system, but was beset by a neck issue that limited him to 11 starts in ’22.
“I feel good,” Walter said. “I feel brand new. No issues with it. Hopefully it’s behind me forever.”
Walter is excited when he looks at what could be ahead for himself and his two locker mates.
“It’s cool,” Walter said. “We’re all going through it for the first time, all together, so we’re sharing that experience together. I think we’re taking it well, we’re helping each other do it. It was cool to see us all have success in the first game, too.”
Sox fans who are up for another coming attraction should tune in to Friday’s game against the Twins, when the three are again expected to pitch in the same game.
“We’ve been together in the Minor Leagues, too, so to put us on the same day and kind of following each other up like that is great, because usually we’re all on different days being starters,” Walter said. “So it’s kind of cool.”