Baltimore Orioles' 40th Round Pick, RHP Joe Johnson Was Not Intimidated in 2016

It's often overlooked, but when it comes to the MLB Draft, players get selected from just about everywhere: high school, NCAA Divisions I, II, III, Junior College, and NAIA, and despite being selected in the 40th and final round, out of a NCAA Division II school, Baltimore Orioles' prospect, right-handed pitcher Joe Johnson excelled in his professional debut season.

Photo: Jim Donten of

It could have been easy for Johnson, 22, to be intimidated a little bit. He went to NCAA Division II, Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina, and was selected in the last round of the draft. Instead of being intimidated, he was intimidating on the mound.

The righty, who's release point is very similar to that of Darren O'Day's, pitched like he was out to prove something.

Johnson began the season with the Orioles' Gulf Coast League affiliate, and was a dominant force out of the bullpen, just like he was in college. Johnson appeared in 18 games with the GCL Orioles, and went 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP over 24 1/3 innings pitched. In addition, he held opponents to a .193 batting average and struck out a robust 32 batters in the process.

If you take out his appearance on August 18, where he allowed five earned runs, Johnson allowed just three earned runs in the other 17 appearances.

Once the Gulf Coast League's season was coming to a close, Johnson got the opportunity to head up to Short-season A Aberdeen, where he got to appear in two games for the Ironbirds.

Guess what? He was intimidated, and in fact, all he did was retire all eight batters he faced over two appearances, including striking out three of them.

When all was said and done, Johnson finished his 2016 professional debut season with a 2.67 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP over 27 total innings with 35 strikeouts.

The 2016 Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Year didn't let the fact that he went to a D-II school bother him, didn't let the fact that he was selected in the Draft's final round bother him, all he did do was pitch extremely well and began his career with perhaps a chip on his shoulder.

Johnson is a guy I look to really emerge as a name Orioles' fans begin to hear about as 2017 gets going, both because of his unique delivery and performance on the mound.


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