Baseball and football fans alike should familiarize themselves with Kyler Murray as the young, dual-sport athlete will likely face a big decision this summer. Murray was a talented shortstop and QB from the 2015 class who signed to play football at Texas A&M. He did play for the Aggies as a freshman, compiling 1,021 yards of offense and six touchdowns before transferring to Oklahoma.
After sitting out a year for transfer rules and another year backing up star QB Baker Mayfield, Murray is locked in a battle for the starting role in football. Murray is also turning heads on the diamond as a center fielder for the Sooners. He will likely turn a hot season into a solid MLB draft pick, but the decision to sign or continue playing football will likely be a tough one to make.
Kyler Murray 2018 MLB Draft Profile
One of Murray’s biggest strengths is his all-around athletic ability. There is no doubt Murray is an elite athlete and possesses the type of physical makeup that scouts drool over. Though a little short at 5-foot-11, Murray’s 195 pounds is enough to provide solid power with good speed.
His numbers for 2018 are solid, slashing .288/.377/.509 with seven home runs, 36 RBI, 11 doubles, 47 hits, and 37 runs scored in 43 games. He also has 20 walks and seven stolen bases, but he has been caught stealing four times.
Murray will continue to draw high marks for his overall athleticism, but there are plenty of questions surrounding his game. For starters, this is really Murray’s only full season of baseball since his senior year of high school. While he did play for Oklahoma last season, his numbers were largely unimpressive with the exception of his base running (12 steals in 13 tries). Executives will have to do their best to determine if Murray can produce similar stats over a larger sample size moving forward.
Murray’s power is a nice complement to his speed and athleticism, but questions remain about how well his power would translate to the next level. While he does have the speed to play at the next level, he is not the kind of high OBP and blazing speed guy that can get by without the power.
While it is not unheard of to see dual-sport athletes in Division I sports, it remains rare in this age. Murray will try and join Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston as high-profile football players who continued playing baseball throughout their college careers. Both Russell and Winston chose football and have had solid careers, but Murray’s decision remains in front of him. The timing of the draft also makes the decision especially tough.
While Murray will have a better idea of what his MLB paycheck would look like this summer, he may still get the opportunity to start at QB for the Sooners and make his case for the NFL this fall. It is possible Oklahoma could allow him to sign an MLB contract and still play football this fall, similar to Wilson’s situation when he played his senior year for Wisconsin.
In the end, the decision may rest upon which sport offers Murray the better financial possibilities over the course of his career. He will likely not be taken in the first two rounds, but he could be taken high enough to net a six-figure signing bonus. Money talks, and the team that selects Murray may be able to lure him away from football with a lucrative bonus.
Jackie Bradley Jr. stands out as a likely comparison for Murray. Like Bradley, Murray has the athletic ability and mobility to be a defensive star in the OF with decent power potential. He will likely be an up-and-down player at the plate but could develop into a 10-15 home run a year type of guy.
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