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Trenton Thunder DH Cody Johnson immediately before hitting a home run at Waterfront Park on April 7, 2012
When Cody Johnson was drafted by the Atlanta Braves with the 24th pick of the first round in the 2006 draft, many thought the Mosley High School product would have a bright future. Just one year after making his professional debut, Johnson was named as the Braves’ Minor League Player of the Year. He would continue his progress through 2009, rising up to Double-A. However, in 2010, Johnson’s progress flat-lined, and he hit just .189 with an OPS of .613 in 75 games with Double-A Mississippi. After the season, Johnson was thought to be a bust and was sold to the Yankees for cash considerations.
In the Yankees organization, Johnson found new life primarily as a designated hitter at age 22. He would start the 2011 season with Tampa, where he obliterated Florida State League pitching to the tune of .326/.387/.548. He was quickly promoted to Double-A Trenton, where he spent the duration of 2011. Though Johnson only hit .226 for the Thunder, he showed considerable power, belting 15 home runs in just 74 games. Unfortunately, while the power numbers were phenomenal, there was a huge warning sign – 138 strikeouts in those 74 games.
To start the 2012 season, Johnson was again assigned to Double-A in hopes that he could cut down on the strikeouts and boost his ability to get on base. He’s responded well to the challenge thus far. Through 40 games this season, Johnson’s batting average is at .296, and he currently leads the Eastern League in home runs with twelve. While Johnson is still striking out more than once per game, the strikeout numbers have been considerably slashed.
At this point, it’s fair to say that Cody Johnson has quietly developed himself into a nice gem in the Yankees farm system. I would compare him a lot to White Sox outfielder Adam Dunn – a lot of power, a lot of strikeouts, and not much in the field. It wouldn’t be surprising if Johnson is promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by mid-June in an effort to reinsert some life into an extremely inconsistent offense. As for beyond that, I still think the future is bright for Johnson. His potential may be limited due to his lack of defense, but in the sense of being a pure hitter, Cody Johnson has the potential to make a bigger impact than many may believe at the big league level.