Erik Johnson is back on the map and he’s set to start the Triple-A All-Star game next week, too.
A strong season highlighted by a dominant six-game stretch earned Johnson the nod for the International League in next Wednesday’s exhibition.
It also has helped the Triple-A Charlotte pitcher -- once the No. 2 prospect in the White Sox farm system who was sent back to the minors after five starts in 2014 -- reemerge in the organization’s plans after a disastrous 2014 season.
Johnson is 7-5 with a 2.86 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 85 innings at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Over his last six games, Johnson has a 1.07 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 42 innings.
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“He’s having a great year,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “On one level, you’re really happy for the kid because obviously he struggled and it sort of got away from him a little bit in ’14. And now not only has it come back, but arguably it’s come back at a level beyond even where he was in ’12 and ’13.
“It obviously puts us in a nice position going forward of having some pitching depth who can also play a role here in the second half if need be.”
The White Sox recently slowed Johnson down in an effort to monitor his workload. He last pitched on June 26, though the right-hander will pitch a few innings on Friday before he pitches in the All-Star Game next Wednesday. Johnson is then expected to return to Charlotte’s rotation on a normal schedule.
Johnson rose to prominence in 2013 as he went12-3 with a 1.96 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A. He also pitched well infive big league starts with the White Sox that September and was rated the No. 63 prospect by Baseball America heading into 2014.
Without much competition, Johnson was handed a spot in the 2014 starting rotation and struggled immediately, going 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. His velocity declined as did his command and Johnson was sent back to Charlotte, where he had a 6.73 ERA in 20 starts.
But this spring, Johnson regained his velocity and wanted to show the White Sox he was still a viable option in the future.
“I am optimistic,” Johnson said in March. “I feel good. I’m throwing the ball well from what I can see. I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying every day. I’m really thankful to be here and be part of this organization. I’m not here to just go through camp, I’m here to make some moves.”