Angels’ Johnson Shows Great Discipline

ANAHEIMSherman Johnson, a 14th-round pick out of Florida State in 2012, was drafted during the Jerry Dipoto regime, when the former general manager put a heavy emphasis on controlling the strike zone for both pitchers and hitters.

First-year GM Billy Eppler values the same attributes in amateurs, which is why the club is so high on Johnson, the 26-year-old second baseman who dominated for three weeks at Double-A Arkansas and is starting to hit his stride at Triple-A Salt Lake.

“His plate discipline is off the charts,” farm director Mike LaCassa said. “It’s one of the best parts of his game.”

Johnson struggled at Arkansas in 2015, hitting .204 with seven homers, 29 doubles, 102 strikeouts and 89 walks in 135 games, so the Angels sent him back to Double-A to start 2016.

He wasn’t there long. Johnson hit .369/.481/.677 with 10 extra-base hits and more walks (14) than strikeouts (13) in 13 games. The Angels promoted him in early May.

Johnson went just 2-for-27  (.074) with nine strikeouts and two walks in his first seven games at Salt Lake. But he steadied himself in mid-May, and through 57 games he hit .247/.335/.365 with 16 extra-base hits, 10 stolen bases, 42 strikeouts and 28 walks.

If Johnson has a strong second half, he could challenge for the second-base job next spring. The lefthanded batter can also play third base and shortstop, making him a candidate for a utility job.

LaCassa describes Johnson as “a tick above-average” defensively at second, though he “has really improved at turning the double play,” he said.

Johnson has average speed, “but he will steal bases, take extra bases and go first to third,” LaCassa said. “He gets great ball-in-the-dirt reads. He’s prepared and tends to play above his skills because of that makeup.”


• The Angels acquired Kyle Kubitza from the Braves in January 2015, thinking he would be their third baseman of the future. The club designated him for assignment on June 13, then sold him to the Rangers a week later.

• A demotion and regular at-bats at Salt Lake suited Rule 5 pick Ji-Man Choi. The first baseman hit .327/.411/.485 with four homers in his first 45 games.

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