Former Sea Dog Brian Johnson helped contribute to the Red Sox 6-3 victory over the Mets at Tradition Field on Sunday, pitching two innings while allowing one run on three hits and a walk. The 24-year old southpaw struck out 2013 batting champion Michael Cuddyer on three straight pitches in the bottom of the fourth inning.
“He might not have garnered a lot of the same attention outside of the Red Sox, but we value him, and he’s a good pitcher,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell according to BostonHerald.com.
Johnson is coming off a stand out year in 2014, one that saw him win the Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award, as well as earn a runner-up finish to teammate Henry Owens in the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year voting.
In 25 starts between the Salem Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs, Johnson compiled a 13-3 record to go with a 2.13 ERA. During one stretch of last season, Johnson held opponents to two runs or less in 22 of 23 starts.
The key to Johnson’s success was his ability to keep runners off the base paths, owning a miniscule 0.97 WHIP and holding opposing batters to just a .197 batting average, all while striking out 132 batters.
Johnson’s stellar 2014 campaign earned him an invite to Red Sox spring training this year, where he is working alongside two other top left-handed pitching prospects, Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez.
Instead of viewing the situation as a competition, however, Johnson has tried to learn as much as possible from his colleagues, all three of whom pitched in Portland at some point last season.
“You’re always taking notes in your head while you’re watching [them pitch] or charting the game or scouting the game as a player,” Johnson stated in an interview with SoxProspects.com.
All three lefties are presumably slated to begin the year at AAA Pawtucket, but with a lot of uncertainty surrounding Boston’s rotation, it would not be surprising to see one or more of these top young arms at the major league level at some point in 2015.