Cubs prospect BJ Murray had a unique journey to reach professional baseball
Growing up in Nassau, Bahamas, BJ Murray loved baseball.
But the sport wasn’t that big in the island nation, so his structured opportunities to play the game were very much limited.
“We played one game a week, practiced one time a week,” Murray told Marquee Sports Network player development analyst Lance Brozdowski. “We had to do everything on the side.”
That was never a problem for Murray because he was and remains a seamhead.
“I always had fun playing baseball, so I wouldn’t mind doing it on the side,” Murray said. “I was always at the field.”
So, Murray would play whiffle ball at home between practices and games with his two older brothers and his dad. His dad, Bertram, who instilled the love of the game in his sons, would nurture a competitive environment that allowed the Murray brothers’ love for the game to grow and thrive.
“My dad would never take it easy on us,” Murray said. “He’d gas us up in the cage or talk smack to us, whatever. We always had fun playing baseball.”
That led to baseball lives for the three Murray brothers. Murray’s eldest brother, Brandon, played at the College of Charleston before playing Independent Ball. Byron, the middle brother, played in the Giants organization.
BJ, meanwhile, went to high school in Florida and played in college at Florida Atlantic University. The Cubs selected him in the 15th round of the 2021 draft and now he’s playing in the Arizona Fall League with the Mesa Solar Sox. Murray is 4-for-16 with a home run in 6 games for Mesa this fall.
“Just trying to pick up anything from these guys,” Murray said. “There’s a lot of good players here. Just having conversations, talking with everyone, seeing what everyone likes, what they don’t like, stuff like that. I’m trying to add anything to my game that I can.”
That comes on the heels of a strong 2022 season, where he slashed .286/.410/.429 across Low-A Myrtle Beach and High-A South Bend. The biggest improvement in 2022 from his first year in pro-ball was his eye. Murray doubled his walk-rate from 2021 (8%) to 2022 (16%). That led to a nearly 70-point jump in his on-base percentage this season.
“When I was growing up my dad would put tape on the wall and draw the strike zone [and] we would use that to decipher between strikes and balls,” Muray said. “I guess that could [have] help. I had coaches help me with my approach along the way.”
Now, Murray is trying to become part of an elusive group — Bahamian-born major leaguers. There’s only been 8 in MLB history, which began with André Rodgers, who debuted in 1957 and played a pair of season with the Cubs in 1963 and 1964.
“Growing up there was two leagues — junior baseball league in Nassau, that’s where I played, and then there’s freedom farm,” Murray said. “Now we have academies now, there’s opportunities for guys. There’s a lot of talent now.”