Brian Johnson (pitcher)
|Boston Red Sox – No. 61|
Born: December 7, 1990|
|July 21, 2015, for the Boston Red Sox|
|MLB statistics |
(through September 22, 2018)
|Earned run average||4.30|
Christopher Brian Johnson (born December 7, 1990) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). Listed at 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and 235 pounds (107 kg), he both throws and bats left-handed. Johnson was the 2012 recipient of the John Olerud Award, and played on the United States Collegiate National Team in 2010.
Johnson graduated from Cocoa Beach High School in Cocoa Beach, Florida, in 2009 and was coached during his high school baseball career by Matt Kellam and Rich Coleman. Johnson was named First-Team All-State in Florida in 2008 and 2009. Johnson was a five-year letterman for the Minutemen and was the Florida Today Baseball Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009; previous honorees include Prince Fielder in 2002 and Clint Hurdle in 1975. Johnson finished with 352 strikeouts in 252 2⁄3 career innings and a career batting average of .481 with 98 runs, 40 doubles, 21 home runs and 95 RBI. Johnson also fired a 17-strikeout no-hitter vs. Space Coast High School in his senior year. Johnson was the No. 84 ranked player in the USA by Baseball America in 2009. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 27th round of the 2009 MLB draft, but did not sign and went to college instead.
Johnson was part of the No. 1 recruiting class by Baseball America at the University of Florida and was named a freshman All-American by Baseball America, Yahoo! Sports, National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and Louisville Slugger in 2010.
Johnson served as the No. 2/3 starting pitcher for the University of Florida Gators baseball team in 2010. Johnson's pitching repertoire features a low 90's fastball, changeup, and curveball. Johnson turned down the Los Angeles Dodgers to attend Florida. He helped lead the Gators to their first College World Series (CWS) appearance since 2005. The Gators were ranked as high as No. 2 in the country by Baseball America. Johnson was also named to the John Olerud Award watch list. The award, given to the top two-way player in America, was won by Mike McGee of Florida State University. The Gators were eliminated by Florida State University 8–5 in the CWS and finished with a regular season record of 47–17.
Johnson finished the season with a .405 batting average, five doubles, four home runs and 21 RBIs. In his pitching statistics, he finished with a 6–4 record in 14 starts, recording 14 walks, 51 strikeouts, and a 4.03 ERA in 73 2⁄3 innings.
Collegiate awards and honors
- 2012 – SEC Player of the Week (4/9/12–4/16/12)
- 2011 – Semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy
- 2011 – Semifinalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award
- 2011 – Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll
- 2011 – First Team Southeastern Conference Designated-Hitter selection
- 2011 – College World Series Participant
- 2010 – First-Team Southeastern Conference All-Freshmen Team (as pitcher and designated hitter)
- 2010 – First-Team Baseball America Freshmen All-American
- 2010 – First-Team Yahoo! Sports Freshman All-American
- 2010 – Second-Team National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Freshman All-American
- 2010 – Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American
- 2010 – Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll
- 2010 – Member of the Baseball America No. 1 recruiting class
- 2010 – College World Series participant
- 2010 – MVP of the Gainesville Regional
- 2010 – Two-Time SEC Freshmen of the Week
- 2010 – Member of the Collegiate National Team
- 2009 – 27th round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers
Collegiate National Team
Johnson played for the United States Collegiate National Team in the summer of 2010. He was one of only two freshmen, the other being Gator teammate Nolan Fontana, on the squad. Johnson finished second in appearances for the summer season with seven and he finished with the third-best ERA (0.63). Johnson, the youngest player on the 23-man roster, finished with a 1–0 record, one save, 16 strikeouts, five walks and one earned run allowed in 14 1⁄3 innings pitched. Johnson helped lead the team to a second-place finish in the 2010 International University Sports Federation World Baseball Championships. They fell to Cuba 4–3 in the championship game in Tokyo, Japan, on August 7, 2010.
Path to the majors
Johnson made his professional debut with the Lowell Spinners of the Class A-Short Season New York–Penn League after he signed. Due to his heavy workload with Florida, the Red Sox limited Johnson's appearances for the rest of the season. He appeared in four games for Lowell, and had his season end prematurely when a line drive broke the orbital bones in his face during the annual Futures at Fenway event. In 2013, Johnson began the season with the Greenville Drive of the Class A South Atlantic League and received a promotion to the Salem Red Sox of the Class A-Advanced Carolina League in August. The Red Sox assigned Johnson to Salem at the beginning of the 2014 season. After making five starts for Salem, the Red Sox promoted him to the Portland Sea Dogs of the Class AA Eastern League in May. The Red Sox named Johnson their Minor League Pitcher of the Year at the end of the 2014 season, after going 13–3 with 132 strikeouts and a 2.13 ERA.
Boston Red Sox
Johnson opened the 2015 season with the Pawtucket Red Sox of the Class AAA International League. During the midseason, Johnson was included in the International League roster for the Triple-A All-Star Game. Following an injury to Clay Buchholz, Johnson made his major league debut with the Red Sox on July 21, taking the loss in a 7–3 defeat to the Houston Astros. He gave up four earned runs, four walks, and three strikeouts while pitching 4 1⁄3 innings. It was his only MLB appearance of the season.
Johnson spent the 2016 season in the minor leagues, battling injury and an anxiety issue. He made 19 minor league appearances (all starts), including 15 with Pawtucket, compiling a 5–7 record with 3.60 ERA in 95 innings pitched.
During 2017, Johnson pitched mostly with Pawtucket, while also making five appearances (all starts) with Boston. On May 27, Johnson threw the first shutout of the Red Sox season in a complete game against the Seattle Mariners. With the 2017 Red Sox, Johnson pitched 27 innings with a record of 2–0 and a 4.33 ERA.
In 2018, Johnson had a 1.72 ERA in 15 2⁄3 innings pitched during spring training and new manager Alex Cora named him to start the fifth game of the season, which Johnson won on April 2 against the Miami Marlins. He was then was moved into a bullpen role. Through mid-June, Johnson had 20 appearances (one start) with a 1–2 record with 4.73 ERA in 32 1⁄3 innings pitched. After starter Steven Wright was placed on the disabled list on June 26, Cora named Johnson to start on June 28 against the Los Angeles Angels. In that start, Johnson pitched four innings allowing one run on three hits and getting a no decision. Following another start on July 3, also a no decision, Johnson was placed on the disabled list due to left hip inflammation; he was activated on July 15.
Johnson's sister, Brooke, was a four-year letterman (2006–2009) for the Florida Gators softball team. Johnson's older brother, Billy Jr., played four years of college baseball, finishing his career with Flagler College. Brian's father, Billy Johnson, played football for Florida State University in the 1970s. Brian's uncle, Joe Williams, was the former head coach for Florida State University, Furman University, and Jacksonville University.
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