Pictured at Tanner Murphy's signing are (front row) Tanner's mother Angel and Tanner. Back row: Tanner's father Scott and Malden baseball coach Tim Harmon.
Malden's Tanner Murphy, the sixth-rated player in the state according to the Missouri Prep Baseball Report, will head to Carbondale (Ill.) to play for Southern Illinois University, an NCAA Division I school in the Missouri Valley Conference.
"Tanner is a tremendous athlete with all of the skills needed to be a big time college catcher and hitter," SIU coach Ken Henderson said in a statement on the school's website. "According to Prep Baseball Report he was the No. 1 rated player in Missouri during his junior year. Tanner loves to play baseball and is a great addition to the program."
Signing with the Salukis is just step one in the dreams of the two-time all-state player.
"Just getting to play at the next level," Murphy said. "That's always been my goal is to move up level by level."
Murphy also has his sights on the Major League amateur draft in June.
"That's the main goal right now," Murphy said of making it to the pros.
By signing with Southern Illinois, the Salukis are getting a big time bat for their lineup.
As a junior, Murphy batted .474 for the Green Wave with six homers, 27 RBIs and 31 runs scored. He only struck out 13 times and had a slugging percentage of .842.
In his three years at Malden, Murphy has an average over .500, 32 homers and 68 RBIs.
Murphy was a key part in Malden winning its first district title in 31 years back in 2011.
"He's the kind of player that comes along once in a lifetime," Malden coach Tim Harmon said. "I've been in this business for 21 years and he's hands down the best athlete I've ever had the opportunity to coach."
Along with his excellent hitting stats, Murphy is hard-throwing pitcher. Last spring he had a 1.52 earned run average and 83 strike outs.
The focus for the next level though will be behind the back stop.
"Coach Henderson said I'm going to catch and hit most of the time," Murphy said.
Harmon felt like that's the right spot for him.
"I've always thought that he's a catcher," Harmon said. "I know a lot of people are excited about him pitching. He throws the ball a little harder than most people at this level.
"To me, he's just so smooth behind the plate and when you can put somebody back there that sees the ball way he does and stops the running game, it just helps your defense that much," Harmon said.
Murphy narrowed down his college choice to SIU although he visited with some bigger programs over the years.
"I think SIU is a great place for him," Harmon said. "Sometimes you have your sights set a little higher. He had SEC (teams) in his head. If you go there, you might have to sit a year or two. He wants to make an impact right away and I think he can do that at SIU."
Murphy felt like it's a good fit.
"I really like Coach Henderson and the staff down there and the baseball team," Murphy said. "I felt like personally it fit me as an athlete and student."
SIU also signed Drew Harper of Sikeston. Jake Welch, a 2009 graduate of Bernie, is a junior on the Salukis this season and started 55 games as a sophomore.