Originally written on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 11/18/14
Jay Johnson‘s promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley last week was something that at least three other big league organizations thought could never happen.  Now, as he ascends to the top in the Phillies’ developmental ranks, the left-handed reliever is just a step from the big leagues and has proved many people wrong. Drafted twice, Johnson was turned away by the Orioles and Blue Jays, after being selected by those teams in 2009 and 2010 respectively, due to concerns raised with his elbow during physical examinations.  In both instances, the team and player had come to terms on a financial agreement, but the offers were rescinded following the discovery of bone spurs and loose chips in his joint. The following year the New Brunswick, Canada native worked out for the Mariners at their spring training home in Arizona.  It had reached the point where Johnson was no longer concerned with a monetary agreement, but he instead was willing to sign for much less.  He simply wanted the chance to wear a pro uniform. “I went out with the Mariners to just try and play and I said, ‘I just want to play.  Just let me get a jersey,’” Johnson explained in a recent interview.  “They failed my physical and I wasn’t even asking for anything then.” After that third letdown Johnson’s college coach, Brian Kubicek, who greatly wanted to see Johnson succeed as a professional, made a phone call to an old friend, Phillies senior advisor to the general manager Pat Gillick.  Before long, Johnson threw in front of a Phils scout in Arizona and was so impressive that he was flown to Clearwater to pitch for a collection of organizational brass.  Soon, despite any concerns over his health the Phillies took somewhat of a risk and a contract was on the table.  Johnson became a pro at long last. According to Johnson, disappointment was never a factor, as he stayed confident that he’d get his shot to stand atop a professional mound one day. “I was still playing in between, ’cause I was still going to school in 2009 and 2010 and I always knew that I was capable of playing, so it wasn’t a matter of (feeling discouraged), it was just a matter of when somebody was gonna give me a chance to play.  I was never too worried about it.  Somebody was gonna let me play,” Johnson said. As a pro, the six-foot-two 210-pounder has improved each season.  In 2011, Johnson made his minor league debut with Class A Lakewood, posting a 1-5 record along with five saves with a 2.94 ERA while averaging a strike out an inning.  The following year, Johnson tallied a combined 2-1 record with a 4.24 ERA in 33 outings at three levels.  This season, Johnson looks sharper than ever, posting a 2-2 record with three saves, a 2.65 ERA along with an 11.09 K/9 mark. While the amount of free passes that he issues (six walks per nine innings for his career) is a bit of a concern, Johnson, who was on Team Canada’s World Baseball Classic roster this year, could be lefty specialist in the making, as he has held left-handed batters to a .203 batting average against for his career. With Reading this year, the 23-year-old tallied a 1.76 ERA after a tough April to earn his promotion.  Johnson credits Fightin Phillies manager Dusty Wathan with helping him achieve success this year by using him in the most ideal spots.  He also feels that building a good rapport with his backstops is a big contributor to how he’s excelled in the minors. “Last year, I got to live with Steven Lerud, he was my roommate.  And this year’s it’s been John Suomi (who) I go to talk to.  I just try to find a catcher, especially a veteran one, and I just try to pick his brain as much as I possibly can,” Johnson said. The youngster made his Triple-A debut on Friday in a very Jay Johnson-like effort, throwing a scoreless frame while striking out two and walking one. Just one level away from the big show, Johnson plans to use his snowballed confidence to continue to mow down opponents and defy the odds. “I say this all the time: hitters get hot, it’s the same, pitchers get hot too and you just gotta stay even keeled and just go about your business and try to be the same.”
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Celtics looking to make LeBron's life difficult in playoff series

WATCH: Luke Rockhold chokes out Lyoto Machida

WATCH: Masai Ujiri fires up Raptors fans with expletive

Andre Johnson: Signing with Colts not about revenge

Pete Rose joining FOX as baseball analyst

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Josh Hamilton filed for divorce around time of relapse

Isaiah Thomas once peed himself to avoid subbing out

Report: ESPN employees want Britt McHenry fired

WATCH: Raptors fans shower Paul Pierce with vulgar taunts

Report: Vikings want first-rounder, starting CB for Peterson

Jarret Stoll arrested for possession of drugs

Report: Todd Gurley's knee checks out well in evaluation

WATCH: All 286 3-pointers Steph Curry made this season

WATCH: Devan Dubnyk makes great save while leaving net

Sabres GM not happy about losing draft lottery

Yordano Ventura ejected for plunking Brett Lawrie

Five early takeaways from the 2015 MLB season

WATCH: Cubs fan catches foul ball in beer cup, chugs it

WATCH: Cardale Jones throws ball 74 yards during contest

Shaka Smart was quite popular at the Texas spring game

Ohio State sets spring game attendance record

WATCH: Bubba Watson raps on Christian rap track

WATCH: Jags mascot wins closest to pin at Sawgrass

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Josh Hamilton filed for divorce from wife

Report: McHenry's coworkers want her fired

WATCH: Raptors fans taunt Paul Pierce

Five things to watch in NBA Playoffs

Jarret Stoll busted for drugs

CJ Wilson: Hamilton is 'ready to go'

Leaked Clippers jersey redesigns

Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase preview

Home runs ruined our ability to appreciate production

Why we love the NFL draft

The "worst" player on each NBA playoff team

Jim Harbaugh showed up at Ultimate Frisbee practice

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.