Brian Johnson- Always on the Verge

Brian Johnson- Always on the Verge

Red Sox

Brian Johnson- Always on the Verge

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I first wrote about Red Sox lefty Brian Johnson in a piece on March 28, 2015. My article was entitled “Another Rookie to Watch.”
He was 24 years old then, and from his high school days in Cocoa Beach, Florida, he had made noise both as a hitter and pitcher. In 08 and 09, he was Florida Today Baseball Player of the Year, with 353 strikeouts in 252 innings, while batting .481 with 40 doubles, 20 homers and 95 rbi’s. He also hurled a no-hitter while fanning 17, while gathering numerous honors on the field and in the classroom.
Johnson.who comes from a large baseball family, stayed home and played for the UFlorida Gators. In 2010 he posted a 22-12 mark with a high-3 ERA. His two-year college record was 47-17 and he played for Team USA, hitting .405 and showing some power at the plate. The Sox drafted him as a pitcher in the First Year Player Draft in 2012, but even then, injuries began taking their toll.  He did not blossom in their system until 2014, when at A-plus Salem and AA Portland he went 13-3 in 25 starts with a 3.18 ERA and was named Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year.  He also developed as a quick worker.
He was in spring training with the parent club in 2015, but perhaps was moving up too fast. After one unsuccessful start in the majors, he spent the rest of the year at Pawtucket, with a creditable 9-6/2.53/1.104 slash. But last season, there was talk that Johnson was suffering from anxiety issues, and his record showed it. He spent part of the year at Pawtucket, but his performance dropped to 5-6/4.09/1.429. Trying to regain his form, he also spent some time at Lowell and in the Gulf Coast Rookie League.
Things seemed to be looking up for Johnson this May 27. Called up to be the Sox fifth starter, he responded with a 6-0 complete game shutout of Seattle in only his third major league start. He allowed 5 hits, walked none and fanned 8, and 85 per cent of his pitches were strikes.
The good times were short, however. On June 9 vs Detroit, he lasted only 4 1/3 innings, allowing 8 hits and 3 runs. He also labored, throwing 108 pitches. Showing his positive personality, he was quoted as saying “I can’t thank (the relievers) enough…it’s huge, especially the way that Heath (Hembree) came in and got me out of the inning.” But things continued downhill. On the 15th, he lasted only 2 2/3, and was touched for 4 hits and 3 runs. He was quoted by Nick Cafardo as not being too concerned, but it was serious- a shoulder impingement that again landed him on the DL. He remains there, not even listed on the major league roster. As of last Monday, he was “several bullpen sessions away.”
It remains to be seen whether Brian Johnson will ever reach his potential. He remains another factor in a rather unsettled Sox rotation.

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