Round 1 – No. 31
Brian Johnson, LHP
Boston Red Sox
Height: 6’3″ – Weight: 235 lbs.
B/T: L/L – Class: Junior
A two-way player who has made a major impact on the Florida Gators both on the mound and in the batter’s box, junior left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson became the team’s second player selected in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft on Monday when the Boston Red Sox chose him with the No. 31 overall pick.
It is the first time in school history that Florida has had two players selected in the first round of the same regular June draft with junior catcher Mike Zunino also going No. 3 overall to the Seattle Mariners. The Gators had a pair of players picked in the first round of the secondary June draft in 1983 (Robby Thompson, Rich Rice).
Johnson is UF’s eighth first-round draft choice to be selected in the regular June draft and 14th first-round pick overall* in team history.
Though he can be extremely productive both as a pitcher and designated hitter, Johnson will primarily be a hurler at the next level. He has the potential to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter and can throw four pitches for strikes. Johnson possesses solid breaking stuff along with a fastball around 90 mph.
He was a unanimous Freshman All-American in 2010 and a member of the SEC All-Freshman Team both as a pitcher and designated hitter. During his sophomore season he was a finalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year award and Dick Howser Trophy, also earning a first-team All-SEC nod for his work at the plate.
Johnson is the first Florida player to be selected by Boston since first baseman Matt LaPorta in 2006 (he did not leave school) and would be the first player to sign with the Red Sox (should he choose to do so) since outfielder Jeff Corsaletti in 2005.
He is 8-4 on the mound this season with a 3.56 ERA and 68/15 K/BB ratio in a team-high 86.0 innings. Johnson is also hitting .310 with five homers, 40 RBIs and 10 walks.
* Burke was selected with a first-round pick twice (1991, 1992). Florida has also had six players selected with first-round picks in “secondary” MLB drafts held only for previously-drafted players, which have been discontinued since 1987.