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  The offers were rescinded following the discovery of bone spurs and loose chips in his joint.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

Frosty Phillies Favorites: 2021 Edition w/ DJ Stewart

Season's greetings to all of you! It's that time of the year to celebrate and enjoy the holiday season. Every year at Christmas time, I survey a group of Phillies prospects about what they get excited for during the holidays.  This year, we focus on just one up and coming player, corner infielder DJ Stewart. The 22-year-old righty batter had a solid season in 2021. In 94 games combined with Class A Clearwater and Class A Advanced Jersey Shore, Stewart notched a .265 batting average with 14 home runs, 42 RBI and five stolen bases.  Recently, I talked with DJ to gain his feedback on all of his holiday favorites. Read ahead for that interview... -What's your favorite Christmas movie? My favorite is This Christmas.  My Mother and I would watch it together every Christmas, so it just stuck with me. -What is your favorite Christmas song and which version is best? This Christmas by Chris Brown.  It's the final song of my favorite Christmas movie. -What's your favorit

Frosty Phillies Favorites: 2020 Christmas Favorites Survey

Season's greetings to all!  It's that time of the year to celebrate and enjoy the holiday season.  Every year at Christmas time, I survey a group of Phillies prospects about what they get excited for during the holidays.  This year I included a throwback Phils name as well. Individuals taking part in this year's 11th annual Christmas favorites survey include former Phillies All-Star and coach Mickey Morandini as well as pitching prospects Dominic Pipkin , Erik Miller and Ben Brown along with corner infielder Matt Kroon. Inquiries and responses regarding each player's holly jolly favorites lie ahead...   -What's your favorite Christmas song and which version? Morandini- All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey. Pipkin- Blue Christmas by Elvis.  It's just unbeatable.   Miller- I don't like Christmas music, to be honest. Kroon- I am a big fan of the original Jingle Bells. It reminds me of being a kid again. It reminds me of all the holiday act

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 . _________