Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Termarr Johnson Pushing for a Promotion to High-A

Pirates top prospect Termarr Johnson could soon get promoted to Greensboro
Jul 29, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first round pick Termarr Johnson and
Jul 29, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first round pick Termarr Johnson and / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates top position player prospect and 2022 first-round pick Termarr Johnson has been on fire at Bradenton, and could soon get the bump to High-A Greensboro

2022 first-round pick Termarr Johnson could force his way to High-A Greensboro soon. The Pittsburgh Pirates have been very aggressive this season with moving their prospects up the minor league ladder.

You have the big ones like Anthony Solometo getting sent to Altoona at just 20, and Jared Jones at Triple-A at 21. But you also have plenty of others like Thomas Harrington, Tsung-Che Cheng, and Yordany De Los Santos getting moved to a level where they are one of the youngest players there. With the Pirates having a ton of movement throughout the system, it might soon be Johnson’s time.

Entering play on Wednesday, Johnson was batting .256/.419/.474 on the season. Johnson is walking at a fantastic 20.7% rate. He has one of the highest walk rates in the minor leagues. Among position players with at least 250 plate appearances this year, his alk rate is the 4th highest.

Johnson is also hitting for his fair share of power with 13 home runs and a .218 isolated slugging percentage. Johnson is striking out a surprising amount of times with a 27.3% strikeout rate, but his struggles with strikeouts have not been an issue as of recently. Overall, Johnson has a tremendous .415 wOBA, and 143 wRC+ on the season.

July has treated Johnson very well. He’s struck out just 15.1% of the time, which is a significant upgrade from June (and nearly half as often) when he went down on strike three in 29.1% of his plate appearances. However, he’s now walking at a Barry Bonds-esque rate of 24.4%. Overall, he’s hitting .311/.482/.672. Not only is his OPS well over 1.000, but his wOBA is over .500, and his wRC+ is 200 on the top (100% better than the league average).

The number of strikeouts he had in the first few months of the year was highly surprising. When the Pirates took Johnson, MLB Pipeline compared his plate discipline to Wade Boggs, and his plate coverage to Vlad Guerrero Sr., who was famous for insane swings on pitches outside the zone like this. He had the potential to have a fringe 80-grade hit tool going into the draft. That could still very well be the case, especially if his current strikeout rate over the last month is the real deal. But his first few months to his first full pro season were shocking, and a little worrying at first. However, what he’s done in July is very promising, at the very least.

Johnson is still very young. He just turned 19 in June. Moving him up to Greensboro would make him one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League. There are only four position players who are 19 and are in the SAL (five if you want to count Jackson Holliday who is now at the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate). Only one is younger than Johnson is now. That's Boston's top outfield prospect Roman Anthony (who is obliterating High-A pitching).

However, Johnson’s recent production at the plate, including his massive improvements with strikeouts, should be rewarded. It’s not as if Johnson was a late-round pick who is performing surprisingly well. He was the 4th overall pick in 2022 and owns the second largest signing bonus for a 4th overall selection and by a wide margin. Johnson performing well and getting moved up the minor league ladder with some deserved authority not only is deserved but expected.

With Johnson’s most recent game that saw him go one-for-three with a home run and two walks, I think it’s only a matter of time until the Pirates give their top position player prospect the move to Greensboro. With the amount of movement they’ve made throughout the system, Johnson has to be at the top of their priority list. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the next big prospect they get to promote.

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