Skip to main content

Prospect Nation 2014: #25 LHP Jay Johnson

Left-handed hurler Jay Johnson has proven to be quite the nice gamble for the Phillies since he was signed as a minor league free agent in 2011.  The New Brunswick, Canada native had previously been drafted by the Orioles and Blue Jays, but failed physical examinations which prevented him from signing with those clubs.  After some work to prove himself, Johnson earned a pro contract and has developed into a quality lefty reliever.

Due to concerns raised with his throwing elbow during team exams, both Baltimore and Toronto backed out after having come to terms on financial agreements with Johnson.  The offers were rescinded following the discovery of bone spurs and loose chips in his joint.  Johnson never lost focus and was confident he would get an opportunity to be a professional pitcher at some point.

There was a third opportunity with the Mariners, but they backed down too and it took a phone call from Johnson's college coach Brian Kubicek to the Phils' senior advisor to the general manager, Pat Gillick, that resulted in a workout in Clearwater, FL which got Johnson the deal as well as the jersey that he long desired.

The Lethbridge Community College product made his pro debut in 2011 with Class A Lakewood.  That year, in 40 games, Johnson looked strong, putting together a 1-5 record with five saves and a 2.94 ERA while striking out 49 batters in 49 innings out of the BlueClaws' bullpen.

The following year, the six-foot-two 210-pounder pitched mainly with Reading, but missed time with an injury.  In 28 games at Double-A in 2012, Johnson notched a 2-1 record with a 5.02 ERA.

Johnson was a member of last year's Team Canada World Baseball Classic roster and feels that he picked up a lot by being around some big name MLB veterans.  During an interview with me last summer, Johnson cited John Axford, Joey Votto and Justin Morneau as players he learned a lot from in the brief time he was a teammate of theirs last spring.  Matching the intensity of such players, Johnson was among those that were ejected in the infamous WBC brawl against Team Mexico last March.

The 2013 season began with Johnson back at Double-A where he became one of Reading's most reliable arms.  Through 38 games the youngster has a 2-2 record with three saves and a 2.65 ERA. He heated up along with the northeast weather, as he tallied a 1.76 ERA in 30 Eastern League games after April.

Following his strong effort with Reading, Johnson was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley where he initially had a rough go of things against International League competition.  Through his first six outings with the IronPigs, Johnson tallied a 12.70 ERA, but he bounced back, closing out his regular season allowing just two earned runs over 12 innings for a 1.50 ERA in his final 11 outings.

Johnson sports a pitch repertoire that features a low-90's fastball which spikes higher in velocity when he pitches more often, a nice slider and a change up that he likes to use to confuse right-handed batters.  The menu has proven successful for the 24-year-old, who has a career 10.24 K/9 mark and 46.6% ground ball ratio.  Johnson thrives on less innings/pitches per outing with more frequent appearances.

The main weakness for Johnson is the number of free passes he issues.  Walks will be what holds Johnson back, if he never pitches above Triple-A.  He posted a walk rate of 17.2% last year and has a 15.5 mark for his career in that category.  Comparatively, 25-year-old lefty hurler Mario Hollands, who was invited to big league spring training by the Phillies this week, has a career 7.2% walk rate in four professional seasons at similar levels. 

If he can reduce the bases on balls issued and continue to mow down the opposition, Johnson would be a fine candidate to be a big league filler if a lefty vacancy arises in the Phillies' bullpen this year.

Look for Johnson, whose favorite player growing up was Jonathan Papelbon, to be a late-inning setup guy in Lehigh Valley or possibly the IronPigs' closer to open the 2014 season.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

This Guy Speaks For All of You

This individual, interviewed by FOX 29 on Friday as the Phillies arrived back at Citizens Bank Park, said it best. When asked how he felt regarding the Phillies, he told Steve Keeley that he was, "Stoked, baby!" The unidentified phanatic then proclaimed, "We are talking about the Fightins here, the Fightins! Said!" Check out the media player below, as the transcribed version certainly does not do this phireball of phandom justice. The Phillies forced game 6 of the National League Championship Series with a 4-2 victory over the Giants in San Francisco on Thursday night. Game 6 will feature Roy Oswalt vs. Jonathan Sanchez in a return pitching match up from game 2. First pitch is scheduled for 7:57 pm EST at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Be sure to tune in on 97.3 ESPN's Weekend Sports Guide with Tyrone Johnson this afternoon around 1:15pm to hear me chatting about the Phillies! 97.3 is based in Atlantic City. You can listen live online HERE . _________

Who is Your Favorite Willie 'Mays' Hayes?

PhoulBallz.com is wondering which individual who has portrayed Willie "Mays" Hayes is the favorite of the public. Hayes, of course, is the character made famous in the Major League motion picture series. In Major League , Willie "Mays" Hayes was portrayed by budding Hollywood actor Wesley Snipes, who would go on to action movie superstardom. Snipes has starred in major motion pictures like the Blade trilogy, Passenger 57 , Undisputed and many more. Snipes remains an impact Hollywood actor, despite legal troubles related to income tax evasion. Snipes was replaced for the sequel, Major League II when his busy career, and possibly the film's budget, would not allow him to return, by Omar Epps. Another budding actor, Epps had previously worked with director David S. Ward, on the film The Program , and landed the role of Hayes, who had become a Hollywood action star over the off-season that occured between the two films. Epps' career portraying athletes rol

Phillies minor leaguer Burch to use health scare as fuel

Tyler Burch, image- MiLB.com I invite you to visit Patreon.com/PhoulBallz in order to support my work and get access to exclusive interviews plus early access to features and news such as this. A missed baseball season wasn't the only challenge facing righty pitcher Tyler Burch this summer.   With persistent symptoms that began prior to spring training it was ultimately discovered, after the 2020 season was shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, that the 22-year-old had developed an autoimmune disease.   As symptoms that included dry mouth and frequent trips to the bathroom worsened, Burch's situation left his doctor puzzled.  And even the physician that conducted his team physical examination at the outset of spring training jokingly referenced diabetes, but did not take the possibility seriously.    The physical impacts subsided somewhat during spring training, as being more active and adhering to the team diet helped alleviate what he was experiencing. Once the base