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Williams: Termarr Johnson’s Development Will Determine the Pirates’ 2022 Draft

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The Pittsburgh Pirates had the fourth overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. That draft featured future top prospect Jackson Holliday taken first overall. There wasn’t a consensus at the number four spot, and the Pirates landed on prep infielder Termarr Johnson from Georgia.

Unlike the previous year, the Pirates didn’t get any bonus pool savings from their first round pick. Johnson ended up signing for over-slot, leading to the rest of the draft being college-heavy.

Following his selection, Johnson proclaimed that the Pirates were getting the best player in the draft. He hasn’t reached the prospect hype of Holliday, but Johnson has shown promise in his early pro career.

Head of the Class

Termarr Johnson is going to be the biggest test for the Pirates’ hitting development abilities. He was seen as the best pure hitter out of the high school ranks in 2022, and has shown those hitting abilities in pro ball. He was invited to MLB Spring Training this year, and displayed an advanced ability to adjust to and make contact against difficult pitches from big league pitchers.

The pure hitting skills of Johnson are advanced, but the Pirates seem to be developing his power. In his first full season, Johnson hit .244/.419/.448 in Bradenton, followed by .242/.427/.414 in Greensboro. He combined for 18 home runs, while walking over 20% of the time at each level.

Johnson has looked like a three-outcomes hitter, which doesn’t match the draft profile. He’s got better contact ability than shown in the stats, and the three-outcomes power approach doesn’t give him a profile as a top prospect. The hope would be that he eventually takes this power approach and merges it with his ability for contact, with the pure hitting leading his approach.

In his return to High-A this year, Johnson is batting .215/.383/.346. That’s a decline from his numbers at the same level in the second half last year. He’s hitting better over the last month, with a .271/.395/.479 line since May 18th. He also just turned 20 years old, so there’s a lot of time for him to develop.

Johnson is the best hitting prospect in the Pirates’ system, but this is a system that doesn’t have a good track record at developing hitters. How they develop Johnson will be telling of their abilities on this side of the ball.

The Standouts

Thomas Harrington, RHP – The Pirates drafted Harrington out of Campbell University with the 36th overall pick. The right-hander is in Double-A this year, with a 3.13 ERA in 31.2 innings across his first seven appearances, after beginning the year on the IL with a shoulder injury. Harrington has some of the best control in the system, sitting low-90s with his fastball. He pairs the fastball with a sweeper that he developed into a strikeout pitch in pro ball, while also throwing a curveball and changeup. On top of his pitch mix, Harrington is a smart player who can develop quickly, and who has assisted other pitchers in their own developments. Most notably, he helped Jared Jones with some advice on throwing the fastball. Harrington is not only a talented pitcher, but he’s a great teammate to have at any level.

Hunter Barco, LHP –

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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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