MLB Draft Exclusive: Marcus Johnsonby Alex Kielar June 8, 2022 0 comments
Marcus Johnson is a top 200 prospect for the 2022 MLB Draft after three seasons at Duke University. The right-hander and the Blue Devils had a bit of a down year this season, but his 2021 season was successful. Duke missed the ACC Tournament altogether in 2022 after winning their first ACC Tournament title last season, with Johnson holding over a 5 ERA. He could be destined to move back to the bullpen in pro ball after his best numbers came when he pitched out of the pen in 2021. The junior sat 92-95 mph and hit 97 while in the bullpen, but worked around 90-94 mph as a starter. Johnson led the team in ERA (3.05), wins (five), saves (seven), and appearances (30) as a reliever in 2022.
Facing Ups and Downs
Alex Kielar: Obviously, you guys didn’t end up making the ACC tournament. So what do you think really went wrong as a whole, as a team?
Marcus Johnson: I think we were just a younger team. I think that in college baseball with there being a lot of fifth-year guys and stuff kind of stemming from the pandemic, that sometimes it hurts to be young. I think that we’ve kind of played old the last few years. So it was tough with having guys in there that don’t have a lot of experience.
AK: You personally, what have you looked to work on as you get set for the MLB draft and going into next year and going into the minor leagues?
MJ: I don’t really feel like there’s one thing, in particular, I’m trying to work on. I think I’m just trying to refine everything, but obviously, pro baseball’s a different game, so just gonna wait and see what an organization has to say and kind of just go from there.
AK: Have any teams reached out to you during the process?
MJ: Yeah, there’s been a few, some teams are more interested than others. But I think just like everybody has, it’s just kinda how it goes.
AK: Has there been any kind of interesting topics that you’ve discussed with teams? Any kind of out-of-the-blue questions?
MJ: Not really. Everything’s kind of just been focused on how I thought the season went, kind of same questions here. Then really just kind of doing their final information gathering kind of deal before they have their front office meetings.
AK: Are you going to be going down to LA for the draft or are you gonna be at home?
MJ: I’m just gonna be at home. Just taking in with my family, and a small group of people. Not too much planned.
One Day at a Time
AK: Over the last three years, what would you say is one of the biggest things you’ve learned being at Duke?
MJ: I think that, that it’s not gonna go perfect. There’s always gonna be a bump in the road that you kind of have to persevere for. Even the guys that are still playing in the super regionals right now are facing challenges and stuff like that. It’s not that, you know, everything’s going smoothly that got ’em there. It’s probably the exact opposite. So I’d say that’s one thing I’ve learned.
AK: What is one lesson you learned from the coaching staff, working with them over the last three years, that you are gonna take with you to the pros?
MJ: I honestly think just like the focus on each day. The coaching staff harps on being in the moment and kind of completing the task at hand before looking ahead to new ones. So I think that’s definitely something I’ll take, it’s probably easy to get ahead of yourself in pro ball and think about what-ifs and how you’re gonna accomplish a big goal. But if you just take it day by day, I feel like that’s good advice to take.
AK: What are you expecting out of the draft? Is there a specific round that you expect to go in or have you thought about that?
MJ: No, no. I try to just kind of, there’s nothing I can really do about it now to change anything. So I’m kind of just keeping an open mind and a clear mind going into the draft.
AK: Any teammates that you’re looking at and gonna be paying attention to for the draft as well?
MJ: Yeah, RJ Schreck, Luke Storm, Graham Pauley, Billy Seidl, we have a few different guys that I think are gonna get an opportunity.
Pitchers to Look Up To
AK: Just looking at who you kind of look up to. Is there one specific, major leaguer you try to build your game after?
MJ: Not really. I kind of try to look at different groups of players. Like starters who have been doing it a while at a high level. I think those are the best people to learn from when it comes to mechanics and how they go about their business because it’s about sustained success and that’s really where the money is. So kinda paying attention to those guys.
AK: Is there one specific name that you can think of?
MJ: I feel like I kind of pulled things from everybody nowadays, [Shoehi] Ohtani, [Max] Scherzer, [Jacob] Degrom, all the kind of varieties who have been doing it at a consistent level.
AK: Now that the season is over, what have you done for fun off the field?
MJ: Well, I haven’t been home for a while, so I’ve kind of just been enjoying being a little bit bored at home. Going to the pool, kind of hanging out with old friends that I haven’t got to see that much over the last three years because of being on the East Coast. So just kind of hanging out.
AK: Have you gotten into playing any video games?
MJ: Yeah. I’ve been getting back into a little bit more since I’ve had some more downtime, but just playing, MLB The Show, Madden, War Zone, and just kind of mixing it up.
AK: What other stuff off the field, have you gotten into any TV shows?
MJ: More when I was at school, I think now since I’ve been home, I’ve been kind of just hanging out and spending time with people. But I‘m trying to get on Ozark right now on Netflix, but just started.
Stay tuned for more updates on Johnson and other draft prospects as the MLB Draft approaches. Johnson is likely to hear his name called around round three to round five.
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Main Image Credit: From MLB.com