BOSTON (CBS) — With the Red Sox sitting nine games back in the AL East, there is little hope for the 2015 season.
But while the hope for this season is waning, it presents an opportunity to take a look into the future.READ MORE: Brookline To Lift Outdoor Mask Mandate On May 21
We’ve already gotten a glimpse of what Eduardo Rodriguez can bring to the Boston rotation. As expected, there’s been some good and some bad from the 22-year-old.
On Tuesday night, the Red Sox will get their first look at Brian Johnson on a major league mound. The 24-year-old lefty will make his debut as Boston starts a three-game series against the Houston Astros.
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“I’m grateful and I’m going to soak up every second of it,” Johnson told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jonny Miller.
While we don’t want to place unrealistic expectations on another one of Boston’s young arms, there’s reason to believe Johnson could soon find permanent residence in the Red Sox rotation. He went 8-6 with a 2.73 ERA in 16 starts for Triple-A Pawtucket this season, posting a 1.10 WHIP and holding opposing batters to a .217 average. This comes after he put up impressive numbers in Double-A Portland last season, going 10-2 with a 1.75 ERA in 20 games, striking out 99 batters in 118 innings.
Johnson, the 31st pick in the 2012 draft out of the University of Florida, brings a four-pitch arsenal to the big leagues. His fastball ranges from the high 80s to low 90s, but rather than speed the southpaw says it’s all about location with that pitch. His best pitch is his curveball, which sharply moves away from batters, and complements his cutter and changeup.
The changeup has been a work in progress since he was drafted by the Red Sox, but one that has led to his recent string of success.READ MORE: Truck Drivers For Shaw's Supermarkets Return To Work
“That really helped me. Once I get that down and going, it makes life a lot more easy for you when you have four pitches,” said Johnson, who grew up idolizing fellow southpaws Randy Johnson and Andy Pettitte.
Despite his success over the last two years, posting a 2.29 ERA in 228.2 minor league innings, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Boston’s No. 5 ranked prospect. During his brief stint with Single-A Lowell in 2012, Johnson was hit by a line drive in the face during the Futures Game. He said it was tough to return to the mound at first, but he quickly put the incident in the back of his mind and turned his attention elsewhere.
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Since then, it’s been full steam ahead for the rapidly rising prospect. He went 2-2 with a 2.84 ERA in five starts in June, and now finds preparing his first start in the big leagues.
“I’m hoping to kind of take a second to soak it in, take a deep breath and lock in,” said Johnson. “Just focus on the gameplan and the catcher.”
With the season expectations for the Red Sox taking a hit thanks to their place in the standings, Johnson doesn’t have to come in and save the day. But bringing him up, even if just for a start or two, will offer fans and the team a look into what the future may hold.
Given Johnson’s track record throughout the minors, that future could be very bright.MORE NEWS: NH Family Thankful For Amazon Driver's Act Of Kindness Caught On Doorbell Camera