GreenJackets Gameday: Johnson adjusting to full-time starting

Monday, May 5 - 7 p.m.

 

Greenville Drive (15-12)

RHP Teddy Stankiewicz (2014 A: 26 IP, 4.15 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 12.4 K%, 5.7 BB%, .274 BABIP)

vs.

Augusta GreenJackets (15-15)

RHP Chase Johnson (2014 A: 25.2 IP, 2.45 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 20.8 K%, 7.6 BB%, .320 BABIP)

 

The talk surrounding Johnson out of spring camp was his transition to starting full time for his first full-season assignment. He had to work on a full windup after working out of the stretch as a reliever at Cal Poly, but the Giants drafted him with the confidence that he could make the move to the rotation.

 

So far, Johnson is looking pretty good in Augusta. His motion is a little deliberate, and you can tell he's working on a full windup, but it's not hindering his ability to command. He's slow and a little stiff going through the delivery, but he drives to the plate well and loosens some before release. His front side isn't so stiff that he has to work over it, which is good for his health and command.

 

Johnson has solid command as an advanced college arm. Despite being 22 years old and throwing 107.1 innings over three years at Cal Poly, he doesn't have a firm grasp of a secondary pitch to point of it being an out pitch. He has a changeup that flashes above average with some tumble and fade, and the arm action on it is pretty consistent. It's probably average right now. Johnson's curveball probably has average potential, but it's inconsistent and lacks hard bite, and it can get slurvy at times.

 

Johnson should and is succeeding in Augusta, but the California League might prove tougher when he eventually moves up. He has the stuff for the lower levels, but time will tell if he can develop an out pitch that will face up to more advanced hitters.

 

The GreenJackets are facing the brunt of the Red Sox draft this series. Stankiewicz is the latest after getting drafted in the second round in 2013 out of Seminole State College in Oklahoma. He was fastball-heavy in nine starts at short-season Lowell to end that year, so there wasn't much to judge.

 

Stankiewicz is probably still throwing mainly fastballs to build arm strength, similar to 2013 first-rounder Trey Ball. But Stankiewicz is a college product and 20 years old, so he's likely already hitting his velo stride. He has allowed 12 runs in 26 innings, and he's not striking out batters, so that makes me think he's throwing majority fastballs. He's also limiting walks at a good rate.

 

Stankiewicz reportedly threw 90-94 with an above-average slider in college. There's some drop and drive in the delivery, and he might struggle to get on top of the ball consistently, but he has good pace and arm action. Based on video, he shows the ability to work both sides of the plate, and his fastball appears to get on hitters with good life. Baseball America gave him a 3 ceiling.

 

Augusta's best bet is to attack the fastball early, like it did to Ball's fastball-heavy start earlier in the series. If Stankiewicz throws a lot of hard stuff, the GreenJackets should be able to cheat to it early in the game.

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