When the Pittsburgh Pirates selected infielder Termarr Johnson with the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft, they got a player that many outlets considered one of best high school hitters in recent history.
So, it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise that they decided to be a little aggressive with Johnson, after signing him to a $7,219,000 bonus.
After a brief stint in the Florida Complex League, Johnson was promoted to Single-A Bradenton, where he finished out the regular season with the Marauders. After a brief adjustment period (he went 3-for-23 in the FCL), Johnson showed that exact approach that had so many scouts excited about him going into the draft.
Johnson finished the season with a slash of .275/.396/.450 while with Bradenton, picking up five extra base hits (four doubles, one home run), with 10 walks and four stolen bases.
He only played 14 games with Bradenton this year, so a lot of the numbers are raw. The data we got from him through Statcast were really impressive.
|Statistic||Termarr Johnson||Major League Average|
|Exit Velocity||90.4 mph||88.4 mph|
Johnson hit the ball hard in his early sample size with Bradenton, posting a better than major league average of 90.4 exit velocity. To get there, he put together nine total batted ball events (out of 30 total) that had an exit velocity of 100+ mph, with a max of 107.2.
Hard Hit% is anything over 95 mph, and with him having seven BBE that hit triple digits it’s not really a surprise he posted a second metric over major league average.
While hitting the ball hard is nice, it isn’t the only thing, as you actually have to make contact to be able to send it a long distance. Adjustments also must be made, and that’s exactly what Johnson showed he was capable of.
Johnson was pitched away very aggressively early on in his Bradenton career, as teams didn’t want to give him an opportunity to turn on one and hit it a good distance.
The first 90 seconds of this video shows how aggressive the opponents were in pitching Johnson away. He struggled a bit at first, swinging and missing once time and then looking at a back door breaking ball for a called strike three.
He slowly adjusted, starting to slap the ball the other way, although not always for hits, he was starting to make contact. In the at-bat against Fort Myers, Johnson lays off a couple of pitches low as well as a fastball away. When the pitcher tries to go away again with a fastball, he’s able to turn on it for a double.
The second video shows three different clips, with the first two showing Johnson drawing a walk and ripping a base hit to right field after getting a green light on a 3-0 count.
In the final clip, Johnson falls behind 0-2 before fighting all the way back to a full count. He takes some really close pitches, and fouled off another in what was a seven pitch at-bat. It didn’t finish in a hit, but he did drive the ball to very deep center field for a fly out.
From August 30-September 2, Johnson got really hot, going 7-for-11 with three doubles. That span of games accounted for 63% of his Single-A hits in 2022, so his damage was really grouped into an even smaller sample.
It wasn’t many games, but it was enough to get excited about a full season’s worth of games from Johnson, who showed that approach at the plate that showed just why he was so highly regarded in the draft. In just 53 plate appearance with Bradenton, Johnson drew 10 walks, and only struck out 13 times.
Johnson has a whole off-season now to make any adjustments from the pitches he saw at Single-A, and with the success he had in 2022, having that kind of time should allow him to hit the ground running in 2023.
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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.