Johnson’s Four (Quality) Starts
Less than 14 months after the White Sox made him their second-round pick, right-hander Erik Johnson has already made a significant impact at the High-A level. In four outings, Johnson boasts an earned run average of 2.13 over 25 and a third innings.
Before joining the Dash in advance of his Carolina League debut July 21, Johnson had not worked through six innings in his minor league career. He has not only posted at least six innings of work in his four showings with Winston-Salem, but the righty boasts a quality start in his quartet of Dash games.
The gem, at least so far this season, came less than 24 hours ago in Wilmington. Johnson needed just 78 pitches to blank the Blue Rocks over seven innings. The former California Golden Bear scattered three hits and whiffed six.
“I was throwing all my pitches for strikes,” Johnson said. “I was pounding the zone early with my fastball and complemented that with my slider. Then, the second and third time through the lineup, I was throwing my curveball for strikes, and then I mixed in my changeup there as well.”
The pitch that stood out from the others was Johnson’s curveball, which he threw 13 times. How many of his curves went for strikes? All 13.
“This week, I really emphasized throwing my curveball for strikes,” Johnson said. “In my first three starts, it was hit or miss. I wanted it to be a good pitch.”
Inevitably, there are still lessons to learn and obstacles to clear for Johnson in High-A and beyond, and the 22-year-old has one key aspect of his game in mind for necessary improvement.
“I just want to throw more strikes with my secondary [pitches],” Johnson said. “I know I have a good fastball. I know I have a good slider. I need to pick it up on the back end of my pitches.”
Johnson said he wanted to work on his curveball this week, and it ended up going 13-for-13 for him. If added attention leads to increased production, another week of work should only continue Johnson’s tremendous High-A start.