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‘It’s So Real Now:’ Pirates’ First-Round Draft Pick Termarr Johnson Signs

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Termarr Johnson put on his new Pittsburgh Pirates’ jersey, looked at the media members assembled for his introductory press conference and smiled.

“How do I look?” The Pirates’ first-round draft pick said with a broad smile.

Johnson was looking like a million bucks. Or more like $7,219,000.

That is the bonus Johnson received after signing his first professional contract Friday night before the Pirates hosted the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park.

Major League Baseball set a slot value of $7,005,800 for the fourth overall selection. The Pirates went $213,200 over that figure.

Not long after finishing his contract, Johnson had the opportunity to take batting practice with the Pirates. The left-handed hitter more than held his own and even hit a couple of balls into the right-center field stands.

“It’s so real now,” he said as left the batting cage.

The next stop is Bradenton and a spot on the Pirates’ farm club in the Florida Complex League. It will cap a whirlwind couple of weeks for the 18-year-old middle infielder from Atlanta.

It started on July 17 at the draft in Los Angeles. Johnson was one of a handful of draftees in attendance and stole the show by guaranteeing he would win a World Series ring with the Pirates.

Johnson said he had no regrets about making that statement, even though the Pirates haven’t played in the World Series since beating the Baltimore Orioles in 1979.

Johnson arrived in Pittsburgh on Thursday, got a tour of the city, and watched from a suite as the Pirates lost to the Phillies 8-7. Then come the signing ceremony, press conference and BP on Friday.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Terry Johnson, Termarr’s father, said as he watched his son’s press conference. “This is what he’s been dreaming about doing forever. It makes you proud.”

Termarr Johnson is indeed living a dream after being named the Atlanta Public Schools Player of the Year this spring after hitting .561 (23-for-41) with nine doubles, one triple, six home runs, 19 RBIs, 27 walks and 14 stolen bases for Mays High School.

“What’s crazy was when me and my mom were heading to the game yesterday, I stopped, put my stuff down at the hotel. We were getting ready to walk out and I just stopped for a second and thought, ‘yeah, I’m a pro player,'” he said. “It’s cool. Hits me from time to time, but I like to downplay some stuff. I like to downplay it a lot, stay level-headed with everything going on. Just take a step and realize that I’m reaching a goal and getting ready to reach another goal.”

No one seemed to enjoy Johnson’s press conference more than general manager Ben Cherington. Normally reserved, Cherington could not stop smiling when talking about adding Johnson to the organization.

“We’re excited about Termarr as a baseball player and what he is going to bring to us on the field,” Cherington said. “Getting to know him more since the draft, it’s obvious he can be an outstanding baseball player but much more than that. He can have a real impact in the clubhouse and outside the clubhouse. He is an authentic young man.”

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