As we continue taking a look at the San Francisco Giants top prospects halfway through the season, we’ll look at Jordan Johnson.
Johnson is ranked as the ninth best prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization according to MLB.com.
He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 23rd round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He played college baseball at California State University, Northridge in Los Angeles.
The right-handed pitcher began his minor league career with the San Francisco Giants rookie league team in Arizona. He pitched just 2.2 innings after being draft in 2014.
He started the 2015 season back in Arizona where he had a 1.54 ERA in 7 starts. He struck out 32 batters in 23.1 innings.
He made just one start with the Low-A team before being promoted to the High-A team. There he had a 4.88 ERA in 6 starts with 33 strikeouts in 31.1 innings pitched.
Total, he had an ERA of 3.19 in 14 starts with 71 strikeouts in 59.1 innings in 2015.
He spent all of 2016 in San Jose with the High-A team. He struggled to the tune of a 5.33 ERA in 22 starts with 111 strikeouts in 120 innings pitched.
Still, Johnson was promoted to Double-A for the 2017 season and has pitched better. He has an ERA of 4.61 in 80 innings with 59 strikeouts.
What’s alarming to me is that Johnson’s strikeout rate has dramatically decreased this year. That’s alright if you are getting outs and keeping your pitch count under control, but when your ERA is still north of 4.50, that’s not good.
Johnson has made 13 starts this year and 2 appearances out of the bullpen. I think he’s at a point in his career when it’s time to decide if we let him keep developing as possible middle-to-back of the rotation guy, or try to make him a reliever.
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His two relief appearances came back in April. In those two outings he threw a combined five shutout innings with 7 strikeouts.
I know that’s a small sample size, but maybe it’s time to try him in the bullpen.
It’s not like the San Francisco Giants have a ton invested in him as a 23rd round draft pick. In my honest opinion, I think they need to put him in the bullpen for the second half of 2017 and see how he does.
If a bullpen role improves his strikeout rate and he puts up more zeros, that could put him on a fast track to the big leagues.
He is 23-years-old and turns 24 in September, so the clock is ticking. If the Giants believe he still has the stuff to be a middle of the rotation starter, then I think we see him finish the year there.
But if they want to start seeing some returns on Johnson, I think it’s best to move him to the bullpen where has the ability to dominate.