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Termarr Johnson Primed to Take Leap After First Full Season



Termarr Johnson, Pittsburgh Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. — Termarr Johnson’s first experience in Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training last year came to an abrupt end.

Early on in camp, Johnson sustained a hamstring injury that kept him out of action until late April. After an unfortunate start to the first full season of his professional career, the 2022 first-round draft pick returned to action with the Single-A Bradenton Marauders.

The more he played, the more Johnson seemed to get more comfortable between his time with Bradenton and High-A Greensboro. Overall, it was a good experience with lessons learned for the 19-year-old.

“Having fun. Learning how to play the game everyday and learning how to get ready for a game everyday,” Johnson said on his 2023 campaign. “Those are the big things that I took away. I learned how to grow up. I’m still young and I still have to do a lot of things and be a grownup.”

Johnson’s season began slowly, but he ended the year on a high note, having reached base safely in a whopping 37-straight games.

His performance certainly caught the attention of Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington.

“Really impressed. Unfortunately, he had a little injury setback last spring which kinda pushed his season back a little bit,” Cherington said. “Probably the first few weeks in Bradenton, he was still getting back into playing shape and the competitive flow. Starting sometime in June or early-July, he really just took off and earned the promotion to Greensboro and kept it up.”

One of the key reasons as to why Johnson was able to end the year in a good place was his impressive walk totals. It’s rare to see a player as young as Johnson with such a keen eye. The left-handed hitter totaled 462 plate appearances and reached on a free pass 101 times (21.9% walk rate).

His ability to show patience is one of the attributes that makes Johnson such an intriguing prospect.

“I try to pride myself as a complete hitter, understanding what I’m trying to do each at-bat and trying to control every at-bat,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve always prided myself on doing and I plan on continuing to do that.”

Johnson already does a lot of things well, but there are still things he has to work on, as to be expected for someone his age.

The offseason was a productive one for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ No. 2 prospect, according to Cherington.

“We really believe he’s had a good offseason. He’s invested a lot of time in Bradenton and has been working hard. He’s been working hard with a lot of older players and pushing himself with older players.

“He’s a confident young man. He’s got a personality that’s gonna draw people to him, certainly as he gets more developed as a player and gets older. That’ll happen naturally. He’s still developing as a player and still learning. We’re excited to see him again in camp.”

As for what his second spring training entails, Johnson has no shortage of guys he wants to learn from. When I asked him what veterans he’d like to learn from in Bradenton, Johnson’s answer was simple.

“Every single one of them. Everybody has their little things that I can take into my game to make me a complete player…I wanna stay close to those [veteran] guys and learn from them.”

Though Johnson isn’t quite ready to push for a spot in the big leagues, it will be a good challenge for him against major league competition once Grapefruit League games begin later this month.

With what he showed last year, a healthy start to the season and the work he put in over the winter, Johnson looks poised for a potential breakout season in 2024.

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