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No. 3 prospect Murphy among A's callups

RHP Blackburn, INF Barreto also brought up from Triple-A
@ladsonbill24 and @MartinJGallegos
September 1, 2019

In the midst of the American League Wild Card race, the A's made moves to improve their roster Sunday by calling up catcher Sean Murphy, pitcher Paul Blackburn and infielder Franklin Barreto from Triple-A Las Vegas. Murphy, the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is expected to see

In the midst of the American League Wild Card race, the A's made moves to improve their roster Sunday by calling up catcher Sean Murphy, pitcher Paul Blackburn and infielder Franklin Barreto from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Murphy, the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is expected to see playing time behind the plate when the A’s return to Oakland on Tuesday, while Blackburn will see action out of the bullpen, though he has spent most of his professional career as a starter.

“If they need me to start a game or come in for an inning -- I’m here to pitch. That’s what I want to do,” Blackburn said.

As for Barreto, this is his third stint with the A’s this season. He had a productive season with Las Vegas, hitting .295 with 19 home runs and 65 RBIs.

With that in mind, here is a look at the Minor Leaguers who are expected to impact Oakland’s future.

Arrival: LHP A.J. Puk

Puk, Oakland’s No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is expected to serve as one of the anchors of the club’s rotation for years to come. But he arrived to the Majors on Aug. 20 in a temporary move to the bullpen as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Puk has only appeared in three games, but he figures to get a shot to help strengthen the back end of a shaky ‘pen over the final month of the season.

Breakout: INF Jorge Mateo, RHP James Kaprielian, RHP Grant Holmes

After a disappointing 2018 season that saw him post the lowest batting average of his career, Mateo has bounced back in a big way. The A’s No. 4 prospect has positioned himself as a strong candidate to be called up once Triple-A Las Vegas wraps up its season, batting .289 with 18 home runs and 76 RBIs while swiping 23 bags and leading the Pacific Coast League with 14 triples. The 24-year-old has received playing time at shortstop and second base this year.

Kaprielian and Holmes, two promising prospects whose seasons have been riddled with injuries for the past couple of years, both appear to be fully healthy and pitching well. The A’s have rewarded the duo with a promotion to Triple-A, with Kaprielian now completing a long journey that started with him at Class A Advanced Stockton this season. The two are now back in Oakland's plans to make an impact in the Majors as early as 2020.

Something to prove: RHP Parker Dunshee

Dunshee was an outside candidate to reach the Majors at some point in 2019 after shooting his way up the system with a stellar 2018 season, but the 24-year-old hit a wall in his promotion to Triple-A this year. The right-hander posted a 5.36 ERA in 20 games for Las Vegas, with his 3.6 walks-per-nine-innings rate was the highest of his career. Dunshee will need to conquer his Triple-A woes in 2020.

Name to watch: Murphy

There was a point this season where it was looking doubtful for Murphy to even play as he dealt with lingering knee issues, but baseball’s 43rd-ranked overall prospect per MLB Pipeline battled back and played his way into a September call up. Murphy is a bit of a wild card here in that he wasn’t expected to make a real impact until 2020, but he has a chance to enter the postseason -- should the A’s make it -- as the club’s starting catcher if he continues the offensive tear that saw him bat .308 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 31 games with Las Vegas.

“This is a guy we have been keeping our eye on for a while,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve seen enough of him in the spring. We’ve watched him enough to know he is one of our top three prospects for a reason. There is a high ceiling for him.

“The thing we like about him … is that he is a two-way player. Defensively, he is terrific. He has a great throwing arm. He is a big target, blocks balls well. The hitting has increased every year. The power as well. He is one of those guys, down the road, you expect to potentially be an everyday guy.”

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.