7-29-22 By Craig W. Toth (aka @Bucs Basement on Twitter)
I already had a feeling that Pirates Fan Social Media was going to overreact to one degree or another, no matter who Pittsburgh took with the 4th Overall Pick. Still, I wasn’t prepared for the immediate calls to trade their #3 and/or #5 Prospects according to MLB Pipeline, Nick Gonzales and Liover Peguero; or, the declarations that he would be in the Major’s at age 20.
Now, obviously Termarr Johnson is an extremely talented young ball player. You don’t just stumble into a 70 Grade Hit Tool, a label as the best pure prep hitter in decades or a comp of being a Wade Boggs/Vlad Guerrero combo as far as bat-to-ball skills are concerned. However, let’s get the kid some at bats before we make any totally irrational statements.
But enough about the hot take machine. It’s more about the how he ended up up in Pittsburgh; and who did the Pirates got in Termarr Johnson.
Well throughout the day, and in the minutes leading up to the Baltimore Orioles Pick at #1, it was rumored that the Birds were set to take Brooks Lee, Termarr Johnson or Druw Jones; in that order. In the end they called Jackson Holliday’s name, which was a slight surprise; although there wasn’t that much distance separating the #2 through about #7.
Then as predicted, Jones came off the board; followed by the the shocker in 2021 Vanderbilt Commodore, and current Tri-City ValleyCats Pitcher Kumar Rocker. Following Rocker’s selection, I honestly had the Pirates Pick narrowed down to three in my mind; in a pretty particular order: 1) Cam Collier 2) Brooks Lee 3) Termarr Johnson. So, when the Pirates went with Johnson there was no reason(s) for me to be disappointed.
For those who didn’t read my Draft Preview Blog Post, here is what I had to say about Johnson:
Johnson is a straight beast at the plate; wowing onlookers with with tape measure taters, and may be the best pure hitter in this year’s class. During his final season in a Raiders uniform he collected 23 hits in 59 at bats; with 15 of them going for extra bases.
Unfortunately his defense is not as polished; often causing many to project him as a second baseman rather than staying at shortstop. Nevertheless, this hasn’t been enough to stop the rumors from swirling surrounding him potentially landing in Baltimore at #1 Overall.
The only thing I would truthfully add to this brief assessment at this point is that, the only reason for the questions surrounding his defense is his 50 grade arm; which is average. His actual fielding ability is a 60; so above average.
Currently the Pirates are set to let him work his way off the position; if and/or when he ultimately does.
In a conversation that General Manager Manager Ben Cherington had with the Pittsburgh Sports Media-including the Post Gazette’s Jason Mackey he had this to say:
“We believe in him as a defender. We think he has instincts to defend. He works hard at it. He cares about it. And he can make plays. He can make plays on the run. He has pretty good body control. Can make throws from different angles. We think he does a lot of good things defensively. He’s a well-rounded player. So we’ll get his career started as a shortstop. We’re excited to see how he progresses.”
As soon as this pick was made, all I could think was go get some arms; which is exactly what Cherington did, starting with Thomas Harington from Campbell University. Go Fighting Camels-Gaylord and Gladys!
In his 2 years years wearing the black and orange, Harrington posted a 2.94 ERA, while striking out 186 batters across 168.1 innings. During his draft eligible sophomore season he set a program record for wins (12) and strikeouts (111). He also second-lowest ERA (2.53) and third lowest WHIP in the nation among pitchers with at least 90 innings of work.
Possessing a high floor-one of the highest in the class according to scout-and a likely ceiling as a #3 starter, Harrington often relies on his mid-80’s changeup (60 grade) for swings and misses; pairing it with a low to mid-90’s (55 grade) fastball, that runs away from hitters.
He does have two other off-speed offerings in the form of a curve and slider; however, these pitches are less consistent. Still, when they are on, they are on.
Ultimately the Pirates signed “Steady Eddie” to $2,050,000 bonus ($100,300 under slot).
Chances are Harrington eventually finishes the season with the Low-A Bradenton Marauders; but, there is also an outside chance he gets an appearance or two in Greensboro as pitchers across the system begin to reach their innings limits.
It’s also not out of the realm of possibilities that 90+ innings of work on the year is plenty good for the Pirates.
Following the selection of Harrington, Cherington returned to the mound 8 picks later. Once again taking a college arm. Only this time, there is no chance we will see this pitcher during the 2022; and, most likely not until at least halfway through 2023.
After dominating, and intimidating opposing SEC-and other conferences-batters for the first few months in a Gators uniform to the tune of a 2.58 ERA and .89 WHIP with 69 strikeouts in 50.1 innings, Jacksonville Native Hunter Barco’s season ended in Tommy John Surgery.
Seen as the top high school left-handed starter in the 2019 class, most teams were scared away by his near unwavering commitment to the University Of Florida. Nevertheless, scouts see his prospective profile and eventual ceiling to be almost exactly what it was back then; when he is healthy of course. Which is something he is currently working on by planking his own body weight, and hopefully beginning to throw in a few months. This is slow process that extremely important, especially now that the Pirates have inked him to a $1,525,000 signing bonus ($251,100 under slot).
Overall these three selections may not be as exciting as the ones-Henry Davis, Anthony Solometo and Lonnie White, Jr-from the previous draft; particularly when you add in the fact that the Pirates acquired Bubba Chandler at the top of the 4th Round. Nevertheless, it not like any of us know exactly who these players will turn out to be until the true development starts, and we actually start to see them make their way(s) from Bradenton to PNC…hopefully.