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Dramatic step up to the Blue Jays for Cavalry catcher

Date

David Polkinghorne

Canberra Cavalry catcher Jack Murphy.

Canberra Cavalry catcher Jack Murphy. Photo: Jay Cronan

Life couldn't get much better for Jack Murphy. The Canberra Cavalry catcher was a crucial cog in the nation's capital winning the Claxton Shield for the first time in the trophy's 79 years, with a 2-0 series sweep of Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League championships series at Narrabundah Ballpark on Saturday.

Plus Murphy will fly home to report for Major League spring training with his affiliated club, the Toronto Blue Jays, which starts on Tuesday.

It's a huge step up for the 24-year-old who has played just 11 games at AA class - two levels below the Majors - in his short career.

A good camp could have him become just the second Cavalry player to make it to ''the show''.

Foundation shortstop Didi Gregorius played eight Major League games for the Cincinnati Reds last year before getting traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who see him as their long-term starting shortstop.

''I didn't find out [about spring training] until about two weeks ago,'' Murphy told The Canberra Times.

''Initially it looked like I wasn't going and then it turned out I was, but I couldn't be more thankful to the Blue Jays for the opportunity.

''It's incredible, I can't even explain it, I went from backing up for a long time and being someone who really wasn't a big part of the organisation to finally getting an opportunity and playing really well … I'll feel great when I get there, but I'll probably be pretty exhausted, too.''

He was one of eight Cavalrymen who averaged more than .300 this season - he hit .304, smashed five home runs, had 24 runs batted in and the switch-hitter's ability to bat left-handed gave a crucial point of difference in a right-hand-dominated batting line-up.

But it wasn't just his hitting. His work behind the plate directing Canberra's pitchers was a big factor in their championship success.

Murphy was drafted by Toronto in 2009 from Princeton University.

He'll go into spring training full of confidence with a championship ring on his finger and an outstanding season under his belt.

The Florida native said his time in the ABL was a big factor in getting his opportunity. ''It's been a big part of it,'' he said. ''They saw that I was doing well out here and a spot opened up in camp and I think it had a lot to do with what happened out here.''

Cavalry manager Michael Collins said Murphy had the tools needed to take his game to the next level. Collins was also a catcher in his playing days and the two have worked together closely all season.

''Not much of a break for him, but that's what it takes,'' Collins said. ''If you want to get to that next level you need to sacrifice time.''

Murphy wasn't the only Cavs player making moves. Outfielder Antonio Callaway and starting pitcher Chris Motta will have trials with the Philadelphia Phillies in the hope of getting signed.

ABL triple-crown winner Adam Buschini has signed with the San Diego Padres, Ryan Stovall will join the Diamondbacks and Kody Hightower will play in the independent Atlantic League.

Collins will also move up from managing the Padres' Dominican Summer League team to their Arizona League one.

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