Pirates Prospect Interview: Blair Johnson

Blair Johnson

Pirates pitching prospect Blair Johnson is healthy again and hoping to build on a strong showing in the Hawaii Baseball League, where he posted a 3-1 record and 3.26 ERA. The 23-year old right-hander was hampered during the regular season at Lynchburg with shoulder and forearm injuries and went 1-4 with a 6.82 ERA in eight starts. PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko spoke with Johnson.

GVB-- You struggled during your season at Lynchburg, were you discouraged by the numbers?

BJ-- Yeah, it was very frustrating, but we nipped it in the bud.

GVB-- You are feeling better physically, were you pleased with the way you pitched in Hawaii?

BJ-- When I spent most of my time down in Florida trying to get my arm back into shape and the whole time in the back of my head I'm hoping to get a chance to pitch some more innings. When I got to Hawaii my arm started feeling better every time I went out and really the only reason why I had a three something ERA is because of an execution thing. I got into a couple situations where I threw the pitch I needed to throw, and I didn't execute it. But That was part of my process that I think I've been struggling with over the years because I was drafted young and I didn't know how to execute pitches. I'm starting to get a feel for that. Now I just need to get more innings in.

GVB-- You faced some good competition out in Hawaii.

BJ-- There was, obviously we had some guys go out there last year and it is a lot of young competition. I was facing guys that were probably a year younger than I was, but your going to see most of those guys in double A and triple A next year. It was fun and it was fun being able to pitch through the whole two months instead of being hurt.

GVB-- I heard you got engaged out there - right?

BJ-- I had been putting my fiance through four full seasons of dealing with me being away and I knew this off season was going to be my time to propose. I basically chose Hawaii and what better way to do it?

GVB-- Obviously the big thing with you - is you are healthy again. It was a tough rehab wasn't it?

BJ-- It's a grueling process - to not be healthy and see everybody else progress while you're are sitting on the side is hard. Hopefully this is nipped in the bud and I've been working out. I'm just looking forward to getting out there and enjoy being on the field again.

GVB-- What pitches do you feature?

BJ-- I throw a four seam fastball and two seam fastball. I'm mainly a sinkerball pitcher. I like to get that quick out. The first couple of years I was playing I couldn't throw my off speed pitch for strikes. But my slider and changeup and I had been throwing a curveball, but the slider is coming along and I think I'm going to stick with the slider instead of the curve. I'm repeating my delivery better and I'm able to throw with confidence now.

GVB-- The Pirates were pleased with what you did in Hawaii - obviously still a lot of work to do - right?

BJ-- It is more or less making pitches in certain counts and knowing what to throw. I always felt like I was clueless when I was on the mound, but you need reps and I was hurt and you learn on the mound. You can only do so much off the mound - I feel like I'm taking all these experiences and hopefully I can take it into this year. Taking control of the game is my thing to work on.

GVB-- Have they told you where you will start out this coming season?

BJ-- I will probably start at Lynchburg and as much as I want to say I'm headed to Altoona - I would say I'm probably going to go to Lynchburg just to prove myself and hopefully I can keep things going and keep the ball rolling from Hawaii and try to get up to Altoona.

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