During the 2013 offseason, Charlotte Knights Media Relations Assistant Matt Spezialetti will bring fans a special "In Focus" series each Friday. Fans can expect a look at a 2013 Charlotte Knights player, or a look back a former Knight. If there is a player you would like to see featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While Erik Johnson's time in Charlotte was brief, his impact was significant.
Johnson finished his 2013 campaign with a 12-3 record and 1.96, the latter ranking fifth in all of Minor League Baseball among full season leagues. He held opponents to a .197 batting, sixth-best in the Minors.
It is nearly impossible to find a statistical area in which the righty struggled.
Johnson began the year with the Double-A Birmingham Barons, making his season debut on April 6th. He allowed two earned runs or less in his first six starts, highlighted by a seven inning, 10 strikeout (season-high) performance April 22nd versus Huntsville. The California native also allowed just three hits and one walk en route to his second win of the year.
Johnson finished the month of April 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA in five starts for the Barons.
Fast-forward to the end of May, when Johnson fired a nine inning complete game while not walking a batter versus Tennessee. That game started him on a string of three complete games out of four to finish up his time in Birmingham.
He would win his last six decisions with the Barons to run his record to 8-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 14 starts, striking out 74 in 84.2 innings. Johnson would allow just one unearned run in the first inning of his starts (14.0 IP).
He was promoted to Charlotte on June 23rd and promptly started that night in Indianapolis, giving up just one run over six innings.
That was just the beginning of Johnson's great work for the Knights, allowing two earned runs or less in all 10 starts and one earned run or less in seven of his outings.
There was no drop-off in his production after entering Triple-A, in fact, he was better.
Johnson sported a lower ERA (1.57) and had a better strikeout-per-nine mark (57.1 IP/ 57). His final line looked like this: 4-1, 1.57 in 10 starts.
Remember back a few paragraphs, Johnson sported an impressive 2-1, 1.44 ERA in the month of April for Birmingham to open the season. Well, he closed his Minor League year out even better, amassing a 3-1 record in six August starts to go along with a miniscule 1.15 ERA.
Johnson has made three starts for the Chicago White Sox, earning the call-up after the Knights' season finale on September 2nd. So far, he is 1-2 with a 2.87 ERA, but the righty looked very good in his first Major League win versus the Minnesota Twins. He tossed six scoreless innings while striking out eight, his seventh seven-plus K game of his year.
Erik Johnson vaulted himself into the discussion for one of the top 50 prospects in all of Minor League Baseball after this year. Another huge leap and White Sox's fans could be looking at the 1-2 punch of Chris Sale and Johnson for a long time to come.