Prospect rankings primer
Last year's White Sox list
The Top Ten
1. Erik Johnson
Height/Weight: 6’3” 235 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2011 draft, University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
Previous Ranking: #4 (Org)
2013 Stats: 3.25 ERA (27.2 IP, 32 H, 18 K, 11 BB) at major league level, 1.57 ERA (57.1 IP, 43 H, 57 K, 19 BB) at Triple-A Charlotte, 2.23 ERA (84.2 IP, 57 H, 74 K, 21 BB) at Double-A Birmingham
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 SL; 6 potential CH; 5 CB
What Happened in 2013: Johnson continued to take developmental steps forward in 2013, pitching his way across three levels, including five starts in the majors.
Strengths: Big, strong body; delivery has refined and works well; fastball works 91-93; can touch higher; thrown with good angle; can work it east/west; slider is a good, hard breaking ball in the mid-upper-80s; above-average offering; curveball good sightline/change of pace offering in the low 70s; changeup is average pitch; good strike thrower.
Weaknesses: Lacks high-end stuff; relies on location and changing speeds; doesn’t project to be a big bat misser; more pitch to contact; changeup is fourth offering; not a big weapon.
Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter
Realistic Role: High 5; no. 4 starter
Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Johnson’s time is now, but as far as top prospects across organizations go, he’s one of the weakest from a fantasy perspective. In a more neutral park, his profile would be more attractive, but I wouldn’t expect him to be better than a SP4 while pitching half his games at U.S. Cellular. Think an ERA around 4.00 and a league-average strikeout rate.
The Year Ahead: After a taste of major-league action, Johnson is ready for a rotation spot in 2014. He has good but not great stuff, and with an improved delivery, the command has taken a good step forward and he can execute a four-pitch mix. The slider might become his out-pitch weapon, but the rest of his stuff is average to solid-average, so he will need to hit his spots and keep hitters off balance to find sustainable success. He should find his footing as a middle-of-the-rotation innings horse, with solid but not special outcomes.
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