Owen Murphy signs his contract at Truist Park on July 23, 2022. (Photo by Matthew Grimes/Atlanta Braves)

Owen Murphy and Ryan Cermak are now professional baseball players. The two early round MLB draft picks from Riverside have both signed contracts with their respective teams.

Murphy, who was chosen by the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves with the 20th pick of the first round, signed his contract on July 23 at Atlanta’s Truist Field. Murphy, a 6-1, 190 pound right-handed pitcher, is reportedly receiving a $2.56 million signing bonus. The 18-year-old Murphy, who just graduated from Riverside- Brookfield High School in May, flew to Atlanta Saturday with his parents Mike and Lynda Murphy. After signing his contract Murphy and his parents were given prime seats for the Braves game Saturday and watched the Braves defeat the Los Angeles Angels 7-2. During the game Murphy was introduced to the crowd on the stadium Jumbotron.

Cermak, 21, who was chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays in the second round of the draft with the 71st overall pick, signed his contract Monday evening at the Rays offices at Tampa’s Tropicana Field.

“I’m pumped,” Cermak told the Landmark in a telephone interview Monday evening when he got back to his hotel after signing his contract. “Just saying out loud that I’m officially a Tampa Bay Ray is the most exciting thing to me. I’ve dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, to say something like that.”

Ryan Cermak (Alex Rogals/Staff Photographer)

Cermak, a 6-2, 215 pound power hitting center fielder with a rare combination of speed and power, has played baseball for the past three years at Illinois State University after graduating from RBHS in 2019. This season Cermak hit .340 at Illinois State and belted 19 home runs, including a 470 foot drive against Kansas. He is considered an elite defender. He was named the Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year for the past two years and won a college Gold Glove award this year.

Cermak declined to say what his signing bonus was but the so called slot value of his spot in the draft calls for a $929,500 signing bonus. Each pick in the first 10 rounds of the draft is assigned a slot value but teams can sign players for more or less than the slot value, though the bonus can be no lower than 75 percent of the slot value if a player participated in medical evaluations at the MLB draft combine as Cermak and Murphy both did. Cermak also declined to say whether he signed for above or below slot value. 

Murphy, who was picked higher than he was projected to go in the draft, signed for about 75 percent of his $3,407,400 slot value. Murphy could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Murphy and Cermak are both initially assigned to their team’s respective spring training sites and will be only about 50 miles away from each other. Murphy arrived at the Braves spring training facility in Sarasota, Florida on Sunday and Cermak is heading to the Rays facility in Port Charlotte, Florida. Later this summer both are expected to be assigned to minor league teams and they may face each other in a minor league game.

Cermak plans to make Florida his home in the offseason and establish permanent residence there.

“I’ll probably go home for a week or so (after the season), but then I’m eventually wanting to move out to the Port Charlotte area and train there,” Cermak said. 

Cermak said he has played in baseball tournaments in Florida and really likes the area. The warm winter weather in Florida will make baseball workouts easier to do in the offseason than working out indoors if he spent the winter in Riverside.

“This is where I’ve always wanted to live,” Cermak said.