Prep Baseball Report

2021 Illinois Player of The Year: Riverside-Brookfield RHP/INF Owen Murphy

By Taylor Castro
Illinois Staff

With success on the mound and at the plate this season, Riverside-Brookfield’s RHP/INF Owen Murphy was named the Illinois Player of the Year. The Class of 2022 standout, who is ranked No. 3 in Illinois, was also the PBR Illinois Player of the Week in mid-May.

Murphy finished his junior season with a 6-1 record and 0.331 ERA. In 42.1 innings pitched, he amassed an impressive 97 strikeouts (2.3+ strikeouts per inning). In his 42+ innings on the season, he only walked five batters and allowed 16 hits with two earned runs.

The Notre Dame commit also batted .453 with nine home runs, 34 hits and nine stolen bases in 23 games.

When it comes to Murphy’s skill-set, he is a 6-foot-2, 190-pound, highly-athletic, right-right prospect. On the mound he has a polished repertoire, loose, quick arm and commands the zone behind a 88-92 mph fastball that climbed as high as 94 in his final outing this spring. Offensively, he has a middle-of-the-order profile with feel to hit and pull-side power to go along with it. Murphy's nine home runs on the year came in just 23 games.


“I had a tough time at the plate during my sophomore year for my travel organization, so being able to come back from that and do all that I did during the offseason to have that kind of season at the plate really makes me happy,” Murphy said.

After his sophomore season was cut short due to COVID-19, Murphy used the spring and summer to improve. Always striving to get better, he found ways to get workouts done. 

Ever since he made the varsity squad as a freshman, Murphy’s work ethic has been one of the special qualities that stood out to Riverside-Brookfield varsity baseball coach Dallas Till.

“He's been working on his game from day one and again continues to work on it. When he's not doing something at school for baseball, he’s at Rake City working with his travel organization. All summer long he’s traveling to different tournaments out of state. People I know that are his neighbors hear him hitting balls late at night at his house. He has a batting cage in his garage. The kid is just nonstop work,” Till said.

Murphy also was a member of Riverside-Brookfield’s football team. During this unusual year, the football and baseball seasons overlapped, but that did not stop him from putting in the work to be successful on both fields. Murphy remained dedicated to both teams, hustling from football practices to baseball games.

“He has a lot of pride in his high school, which sometimes isn’t that evident in kids these days. From a coach’s standpoint, I really appreciate that. A lot of kids are like, ‘my travel team first, or this or that,’ Till said. “I know he’ll be successful individually, but I know that he wants our team to do well first and foremost.”

Despite his impressive individual achievements, Murphy remains humble, respectful and coachable. Still, his team-first mentality is evident and he has one more season of high school baseball to accomplish more.

However, that won’t be without a bunch of his pregame superstitions.

“I’m a huge superstition guy,” Murphy said. “I have to make sure I have this one pair of shorts that I always wear to the game. They have to either be in my bag or I have to be wearing them up to the ballpark. I also wear the same socks, same underwear and same undershirt every single game. I have to go left foot, left arm on everything, except for my wrist tape. When I put on my wrist tape, it’s right arm, left arm.”

Another consistent aspect of Murphy’s life is his family. His dad is especially important to him, since he was the one who got him into baseball. An avid baseball fan and big supporter, his dad has been there since the beginning as a throwing partner and little league coach.

“He keeps me going everyday. Seeing what he does for our family and how he keeps us going... me, my brother and my mom just love him to death. He’s the man that I aspire to be,” Murphy said.

As for the future, Murphy still has his senior season at Riverside-Brookfield before he heads to Notre Dame. Before then, he has more goals he wants to accomplish with the Bulldogs.

“Just to beat myself out at whatever I did this season and to make it as far as possible in the playoffs,” Murphy said. “Hopefully to get a regional or sectional championship.”

Past Player of the Year Winners

2019: Matt McCormick, C/RHP, St. Laurence HS

2018: Matt McCormick, C/RHP, St. Laurence HS

2017: Cole Kmet, LHP/OF, Saint Viator HS

2016: Mike Madej, 2B, Providence Catholic HS

2015: Bryan Hudson, LHP, Alton HS

2014: Jake Latz, LHP, Lemont HS

2013: Ryne Roper, SS/RHP, Harrisburg HS

2012: Zack Weigel, OF/LHP, Oak Park-River Forest HS

2011: Sam Travis, 3B, Providence Catholic HS

2010: Shane Conlon, LHP/1B, Naperville Central HS

2009: Nick Tindall, C, O'Fallon HS

2008: Jake Odorizzi, RHP/SS, Highland HS

2007: Jake Smolinski, SS/RHP, Rockford Boylan HS

2006: Connor Powers, 1B, Benet Academy HS

2005: Michael Bowden, RHP/3B, Waubonsie Valley HS