The Boston Red Sox have one of the most impressive farm systems in all of baseball, placing a ridiculous nine players on MLB.com’s 2014 top-100 prospect list. Naturally, the team has many high draft picks and big bonus players that have helped boost the youngster development. But not all of the minor leaguers can claim such a distinction, including infielder Bryan Johns, who has based his professional career on hard work and doing the little things that create a winning environment.
The 25-year-old Johns signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011 after a college career with Howard Junior College and Vanderbilt University. Although he got into 43 games with the Commodores as a senior, he received just 57 at-bats and hit .211 with a home run and five RBIs. His ability to latch on with a professional team was a testament to his versatility and ability as team super glue.
A right-handed batter, the 5’9” native of Plano Texas can play third base, short stop and second base. In three seasons in Boston’s system, he has played at four different levels, reaching as high as Double-A with a two-game stint in 2012.
All told, Johns has combined to hit .205 in 137 professional games with two home runs and 41 RBIs. In 2013, he played in 40 games between Single-A and High Single-A, hitting .183 with two home runs and 19 RBIs. More information about his career statistics is available here.
Although Johns may not profile as a star, he is the type of player that every successful baseball team needs. He may not post flashy numbers but much of what he brings is not something that shows up in a box score. The historical baseball landscape is littered with such players, and as such, he should never be discounted as he continues to work on his goal of one day playing in the majors.
This past offseason, I had an opportunity to ask Johns some questions about his career. Keep reading for more on the Red Sox’s young infielder.
Bryan Johns Interview:
Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: Derek Jeter. I love the way he carries himself on and off the field. Also, he's a winner.
What was your back-up plan if you hadn't received an opportunity to have a professional baseball career?: I hadn't really thought about what else I would want to do besides play baseball. When that time comes, I’ll figure it out. My focus is only on baseball and getting ready for the next season.
What was your experience at Vanderbilt like? As a baseball-centric school, what kind of coaching and mentorship did you have at your disposal?: Playing baseball at Vandy was such a great experience. My biggest takeaway was the lifelong friendships that I made. We all were each other’s coaches and always tried to make each other better. Now, a lot of us live in Nashville and train for the offseason.
How did you first find out that the Red Sox were interested in you?: I developed a good relationship with a Boston scout during the season, and that's when I knew I would have a chance to play for them.
Can you describe the thought process/emotions you and friends/family went through once it became clear you were going to have a professional baseball career?: We were all very excited when I found out I was going to get to play in the Red Sox organization. It's always been a dream of mine to play in the big leagues, so when I got the chance, we were all excited. My family has always been very supportive of my baseball career
What is one part of your game that you hope to improve on the most?: There's always something I can improve on. There's not one aspect of my game that I focus on more than the other. It's all equally important.
You personify the definition of scrappy when it comes to baseball. Does that make it easier or more difficult for you to get noticed?: I don't worry too much about getting "noticed." All my focus is on becoming the best baseball player I can be and how I can help my team win. It's all about winning. I'm not worried about what kind of player I'm labeled as. That doesn't matter. If the team I'm on continues to win, that's all that matters.
What are the best things about getting to play professional ball?: The best thing about playing professional baseball is the friends that I make. Playing baseball will only be a certain part of my life, but the friends I make will last forever.
Traveling all over the U.S. is also one of my favorite things about pro ball. I get to experience all different kinds of cities and atmospheres that most people don't.
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