Red Sox prospect Brian Johnson shines at Pawtucket


A windy game at Pawtucket to see a top rated Red Sox prospect, Brian Johnson, toss a two-hitter against the Buffalo Bisons. Johnson was actually out pitched for the first six innings by the Bisons Andrew Albers, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, of a scheduled seven inning contest that was part of a double-header thanks to a rain storm the previous day.

The PawSox won in the last of the frame with a walk off run to give them a 1-0 victory and rack up Johnson’s second win against one loss for the season. The game, as always, is important, but for me it was the first opportunity to see Johnson in person as I had read his profile on Sox Prospects and it is very accurate. I left impressed.

The term “cute” is often applied, especially to left-handers, who do not have an overpowering fastball. On this day Johnson varied between 89-93 MPH on his fastball, but his prime secondary offering, a dazzling curve, was the main attraction. That pitch does not disappoint.

Johnson, to use another scouting term, masterfully “pulls the string” on that offering. Typically it will go 10-12 MPH or more off his fastball and a slider – a slider that I definitely had difficulties picking up. My pitch recognition skills are going the same way as my eyesight.

Johnson would also work in a decent change and appears quite adept at mixing up his pitches and this will be one tough lefty if three or four of his pitches are located consistently where he wants it.

Johnson is smooth, fluid and lanky. He appears taller than his listed 6’ 4” and has a rather extended leg kick. The new pitching clock is in action and Johnson and Albers had no issue with it.

Early in the game, a fine defensive play by Jackie Bradley cut a runner down at home on an exchange to shortstop Deven Marrero to catcher Blake Swihart. Jeff Bianchi also made a nice play so Johnson had some good defensive assistance in his 90 pitch effort in a game that took about an hour and one-half and saw Johnson retire – if I had the count correct – the last 14 batters he faced.

A quick glance at the stats shows that Johnson sits at 2-1 in three starts. In his 16 innings, Johnson checks in with an ERA of 0.56 and a WHIP that is at 0.88. Johnson has only issued four walks against 18 strikeouts.

Yes, it is early in the season, but the 24-year old Johnson appears to rapidly becoming the Red Sox number one pitching prospect.

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