This is one in a series of stories breaking down PBN’s Top 30 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Termarr Johnson with the fourth overall pick in the 2022 draft, he came with some lofty expectations.
Drafted out of Mays High School in Georgia, MLB Pipeline said Johnson was arguably the top prep hitter in decades. They even compared elements of his game to Hall of Famers Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Wade Boggs.
Now in the organization, there is plenty to like about Johnson’s game, even if the praise he received before being drafted may have been extreme.
Johnson is young. He didn’t turn 19 until the middle of this past season, where he split time between Single-A Bradenton and High-A Greensboro. There were ups and downs throughout his first full-season of affiliated baseball, but Johnson impressed with 141 wRC+ in Bradenton and a nearly identical 142 wRC+ with the Grasshoppers.
A big reason for Johnson’s success is his keen eye and ability to draw walks. Johnson reached first on a base on balls in a spectacular 21.9% of his plate appearances. He ended his season having reached base safely in 37 consecutive games.
While the walk rate was high, so were the strikeout totals. Johnson went down on strikes 26% of the time. A sign of encouragement for Johnson, however, is that from July 1 on, he cut down his strikeout rate and drew more walks than he had strikeouts. From the start of July to the end of the season, the 19-year-old posted a 24.2% walk rate to pair with a 20.4% strikeout rate.
Another aspect of Johnson’s game that appeals is his power. In 75 games in Bradenton, Johnson clubbed 13 home runs and posted an ISO of .204. With Greensboro, he added five home runs in 30 games, giving him 18 long balls on the season. He projects to have even more power than that with his smooth, left-handed swing.
Largely due to his strikeout issues, Johnson managed only a .244 batting average. If his trend to end the year of putting the ball in play more can continue as he climbs the ranks, Johnson’s ceiling on offense is sky-high.
Even though his batting average was unspectacular, he paired it with a .422 on-base percentage and a .438 slug. Coming out of the draft, the expectation was for Johnson to have remarkable bat-to-ball skills. As he matures, the hope is he will realize that potential. If he does, the Pirates have a possible difference maker on their hands at the second base position.