Ty Johnson – Pic via Ball State Athletics

When the Cubs made their 15th round selection of the 2023 MLB draft, it cost quite a bit of excitement here at North Side Bound. For one, pitcher Ty Johnson hailed from Ball State University, the alma mater of one Greg Huss. Secondly, he’s a Johnson and someone else that you know has a similar name. We are not related that I know of right now, but we could be…or maybe not.

Basic information

Age – 21
Height 6-foot-6
Weight, 205
Throws right
From – Rockwell, Texas
Drafted in the 15th round out of Ball State

Johnson’s college career got off to a slow start. As a freshman, he appeared in 15 games, four of which he started. He had a 7.15 ERA but did strike out 34 in 27.2 innings. The Mid-American conference is not the easiest place to play baseball as it’s really cold in March and April in the Great Lakes region. Brisk weather is not ideal for pitchers or hitters.

When Johnson returned for his sophomore year, things went much better. He wound up with a 7–3 record as he made 14 starts out of a total of 16 appearances. His ERA was much better at 5.43 but he also ate up some meetings at 75.2. He struck out 76 and only walked 25 for a nice three to one ratio.

It was after that season the Johnson made a choice that probably changed his career trajectory. He went to the Cape.

Normally, throwing 75 innings a college baseball would be enough for most college starters. Johnson took a chance to try and improve his stock and himself for the 2023 calendar. He pitched for Cotuit and appeared in nine games, three which he started. He only got in 21 innings at work, but he did strike out 19. However, he did walk 15.

For some guys, one pitch can get them drafted. For others, maybe it’s their size and their delivery. Johnson has a really big leg kick. It’s not similar to Matt Swarmer, but that’s who it reminds me up because it’s pretty distracting and deceptive.

This past spring, he missed some time, but wound up only throwing 53.2 innings as he struck out 68. Opponents hit just .209 off him. The issue is walks.

He throws a fastball they can sit between 94 and 97. And he also has a forkball which some now call a change as he has the Vulcan grip. The Cubs obviously see something that they like and are going to try and build around it. They’re probably going to bulk him up, add some muscle, and put him on eating and nutrition programs, as well as a throwing program in the off-season. The pitcher we see in the first couple months of 2024 is going to be quite different from the pitcher we saw this spring.

And that’s been the trend for guys that were taken from mid majors or division two schools. There’s a huge jump between the partial season or year one and the full season year after they get pro instruction. We’ve seen it with Riley Martin, we’ve seen it with Brody McCullough, and will probably see it with Johnson.

The big question going forward is he going to be a guy the Cubs think can tick up out of the bullpen or will they keep them a starter? It’s a simple question that the Cubs might not be in any hurry to answer.

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