Seth Johnson has had a remarkable transformation from junior college shortstop to a Division I starting pitcher over the last year. His success and potential have propelled him into being a potential first-round pick in Monday’s MLB draft.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound right-hander has room to grow with his command and control, but his intangibles and clean delivery give him a high ceiling.
“The draft really hasn’t sunk in yet,” Johnson said. “I’m just focused on helping the team win. But definitely excited to think about what’s going to happen next week.”
He throws a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. His mid-90s fastball is his best offering. He has control of the pitch and locates it well.
His slider has developed into his second-best pitch this spring. He throws it from the same release point as his fastball and it projects as an above-average pitch. It has tight, late-breaking action to it.
Throughout the spring, he’s shown glimpses of a strong curveball, as it has solid shape and depth, but it has lacked a consistent finish to be relied on as an outpitch.
His changeup is an evolving pitch. He’s shown potential with the offering but hasn’t thrown it a lot this spring due to the competition level.
“They’ve definitely become more consistent,” said Johnson on his secondary pitches. “I’m working on them every day, but with the in-game experience and continuing to work on them has helped a lot.”
Johnson has a 4.72 ERA with 77 strikeouts and 30 walks allowed in 61 innings this spring. He had a 3.07 ERA on April 12 but it rose drastically over his next three starts. He allowed 16 runs in 12 1/3 innings over the three starts to raise his ERA to 4.72.
His struggles caused Campbell coach Justin Haire to move Johnson to the bullpen with his first appearance coming May 17. He’s made two relief appearances, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out eight in 4 2/3 innings.
Johnson said he will work as a reliever during the NCAA Tournament regional this weekend. Despite some struggles, Johnson has been pleased with his development and hasn’t experienced fatigue, he said.
“I was working through some growing pains as a pitcher,” Johnson said. “Since this is my first year, going through every day is going to be a little different and trying to find what works every day. Those three starts, I wasn’t making the adjustments I needed to make as quickly as I needed to make it.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.