CHICAGO -- White Sox prospect Micah Johnson, voted MVP for the Double-A Champion Birmingham Barons in the Southern League championship series, was recognized before Wednesday’s game at U.S. Cellular Field.
The 23-year-old Johnson has the one tool that cannot be taught, god-given speed. In three combined minor league stops in 2013, he stole 84 bases -- the most in professional baseball. With the subtle change toward speed and defense that has occurred in baseball’s post-steroids era, players like Johnson have a chance to move up the ladder as top-of-the-order impact players.
The White Sox have emphasized the athletic-type player more than many big league clubs over the past five seasons. Some work out, some do not as the old adage of not being able to steal first base still applies.
“If I can be the type of player to get on base with a powerful lineup behind me, [that] would be great,” Johnson said. “If I can find a way to get on base 40 percent of the time, we could have a successful team.”
Johnson’s game is not quite there yet, however the future looks bright for the young infielder. He insists he is not in the same speed zone of Cincinnati outfielder Billy Hamilton, who stole 155 bases in 2012.
“I have seen faster guys than me but I do what I can to steal my base,” he said. “I think Hamilton would beat me in a race, but he is also 40 pounds lighter than me. My goal is to disrupt the defense and create more fastballs for the rest of the lineup to see. It is my goal to impact games.”
Johnson, a ninth-round pick out of Indiana University in 2012, was successful on 78 percent of his stolen base attempts in 2013.