Simply Baseball Notebook straight from the source Dec 2001

ADAM JOHNSON: Ace of the Future?

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The 2001 season was an eventful one for Minnesota Twins pitcher Adam Johnson. Johnson, the second overall pick in the 2000 draft, had an outstanding spring, was sent to the minors, made his major league debut against his childhood idol, was sent down again, but returned to finish the season as the Twins fifth starter.

Adam Johnson entered spring training in 2001 as a long shot to make the Twins opening day roster, but after only walking one batter and not allowing a run in five innings there was some talk that he would begin the season in the teams rotation. In the end cooler heads prevailed and he was sent to AA New Britain for seasoning.

"It was disappointing," Johnson said of the demotion, "but I only had a couple months of minor league experience, and they (the organization) felt I needed to get some more innings under my belt."

The Rock Cats opening day starter, Johnson struggled early in the season losing his first five decisions before heating up and winning five of his next six. The hot streak earned Johnson a call up on July 12th, which happened to be his 22nd birthday.

"I was driving around with some friends when I got the call - it was unexpected," Johnson said of his call up.

He made his major league debut four days later in Busch Stadium against the Cardinals and his childhood hero Mark McGwire, "It was the ultimate," Johnson said about facing Big Mac, "you realize how far you have come."

Johnsons debut was successful he gave up only three runs in six innings and got a no decision for his efforts. He also struck out McGwire in his second at bat.

Being a rookie however, has its downside namely the initiation the veterans put them through. "I had to wear a dress on the plane back from Anaheim a nice floral print, he explained."

Unlike the NBA and NFL, the MLB draft goes on relatively unnoticed. Johnson was at home when his agent called him and informed him that he was taken second overall in June of 2000. He was coming off a season in which he was named first-team All-American and the Big West Pitcher-of-the-Year at Cal State Fullerton.

In his career at Fullerton, Johnson went 18-12 with a 3.12 ERA and 365 strikeouts in 274.1 innings.

He began his pro career in 2000 at A Fort Myers after signing with the Twins on June 19th. He finished the season with a 5-4 record and 2.47 in 13 appearances (12 starts). He led the Miracle in strikeouts (92) and shutouts.

Johnson is returning home this off season to get married to his college sweetheart who starred in tennis at Fullerton. As for his goals for next season "I just want to make the team - anywhere."

To get away from the pressures of the game, Johnson enjoys restoring classic cars in his free time including an already completed Camaro. He has plans to restore more muscle cars in the future.

There is little doubt that the Twins think very highly of Johnson. According to rumors the team was negotiating with Toronto for outfielder Shannon Stewart before the trading deadline, but when the Jays insisted that Johnson be included in the deal the Twins balked. If things go as planned Adam Johnson will be the Twins ace of the future (providing they have one).

-David Zingler

Johnson's page @ Baseball-Almanac.com

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