Position: RH SP
Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 240
Acquired: Drafted 2nd Round in 2011 from Cal
FutureSox Prospect Rankings
- #17 – 2011 Midseason
- #15 – 2012 Preseason
- #18 – 2012 Midseason
- #4 – 2013 Preseason
- #1 – 2013 Midseason
- #2 – 2014 Preseason
- FutureSox Pitcher of the Month – August/September 2012
- 2013 White Sox Best Slider (Baseball America)
- FutureSox Pitcher of the Month – April 2013
- FutureSox Pitcher of the Month – August/September 2013
- 2014 #63 MLB Prospect (Baseball America)
- 2014 White Sox Best Slider (Baseball America)
- 2014 White Sox Best Control (Baseball America)
- 2015 International League All Star (and starting pitcher)
- 2015 International League Most Valuable Pitcher
Johnson was a second round pick in a deep class of college pitchers in 2011. He can handle a heavy workload and, as expected, moved through the system fairly quickly. With four pitches, Johnson definitely profiles as a starter. He has a fastball that sits in the low 90s (91-94), a good slider, along with an improving change and curve. His control in college was poor (50 BB in 96 IP as a junior) stemming from trouble repeating his delivery, but the Sox have a good history of improving mechanics on pitchers like that and so far Johnson has surpassed expectations. The Cal product made just two appearances for Great Falls in 2011 after a long season with the Bears that resulted in a trip to the College World Series and joined Kannapolis late in 2012 after elbow tendinitis to start the season. However, once he earned a midseason promotion to Winston-Salem he asserted himself as one of the best pitching prospects in the system, lowering the walks considerably (10 BB in 49.1 IP). Johnson’s strong start in AA and midseason promotion to AAA in 2013 cemented him at the top pitching prospect in the system. He made his Major League debut later that year.
That’s when things got strange. Johnson’s 2014 started with a poor showing in the majors, and only got worse back in AAA Charlotte. Not only were the results bad (6.73 ERA, 54 BB, 63 K in 105.2 IP), but his fastball was running more in the 88-91 range, and his breaking pitches lost their bite. No one seems sure how much was physical versus mental, but it fell apart for Erik.
In 2015 he bounced back in a huge way – great numbers (2.37 ERA, 41 BB, 136 K in 132.2 IP), pitches looking like 2013 or better in velocity and movement, restored command, and even earning the IL’s Most Valuable Pitcher award. Johnson was added to the White Sox with other September call-ups in 2015 and capped off his year by going 3-1 and accruing a 3.34 ERA over 35 big league innings. 2016 saw him struggle in Spring Training with command, and he was moved to minor league camp relatively early. He’s now in AAA Charlotte.
Major League Outlook: Back end starter
ETA: MLB ready