Termarr Johnson laid on the ground in momentary pain.
The 2022 fourth overall pick was hit in the hand with a pitch in a mid-August game in Greensboro. Johnson had homered in three straight High-A games prior to the HBP.
An unexpected power source at 5-foot-8, 175 pounds, Johnson missed only one game from the incident, out of precaution. In the second at-bat upon his return, the 19-year-old launched yet another home run—one of 18 hit by the second baseman in his first full season.
“When I get my pitch, I’m just trying not to miss it,” Johnson said. “It turns into a pretty nice swing, and it turns into a swing over the fence.”
The series of events was a microcosm of Johnson’s impressive season: It was hard to keep him down, and even more difficult to keep him off the bases.
He batted .244/.422/.438 and drew 101 walks in 105 games in a season split between Low-A Bradenton and Greensboro. His power arrived during the summer, with 17 of his 18 homers coming after June 2.
Johnson presents a smaller strike zone and hunts fastballs, with the bat speed and hand-eye coordination to stay ahead of pitches for pull-side power. He’s got the ability to adjust off the fastball, scaling back to protect against offspeed stuff.
One year removed from high school, Johnson moved to High-A on Aug. 1. That push put him in front of bigger crowds, while dealing with independent living and college classes on the side. This also put him in front of more energetic crowds, which he embraced.
“Growing up (in Atlanta), that’s something that I always looked forward to, playing in front of a lot of people and having them give me energy,” Johnson said. “Being (in Greensboro) and having that amount of people give me energy within each at-bat, it’s pretty cool.”
Johnson turned that energy into an offensive performance that made him a standout in the Pirates’ system in 2023, as well as one of their most promising hitting prospects.
— Lefthander Anthony Solometo led the development on the pitching side in the Pirates’ farm system. The 20-year-old reached Double-A Altoona in his third pro season, after being an over-slot second-rounder in 2021. Solometo combined for a 3.26 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 110.1 innings at High-A Greensboro and Altoona.
— Righthander Bubba Chandler, drafted by the Pirates in the third round in 2021 out of North Oconee High in Georgia, had one of the best finishes of the year in the Pirates’ system. Over his final nine starts, Chandler combined for a 1.66 ERA in 48.2 innings, with 51 strikeouts and 13 walks. He spent most of that time with High-A Greensboro but pitched five shutout innings in his Double-A debut in his final start of the year.