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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 41: Tyler Johnson

After two mostly lost years, the fireballer is back with the White Sox and positioned to regain blue-chip status.

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals
Tyler Johnson had a rough 2021, starting with the White Sox in spring training action but ending up cut from the club ... after surgery.
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Tyler Johnson

Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
210 pounds
Age: 26
2018 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 31
2019 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 18
2020 SSHP Top Prospect Ranking: 16
2021 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 22
SSS rank among all right-handed relief pitchers in the system: 4

Tyler Johnson pitched dominating baseball in his three years with the University of South Carolina. Even though his junior season wasn’t quite as good as his sophomore campaign, it was still worthy of notice. In 19 games spanning 26 innings, Johnson saved 10 games for the SEC powerhouse with a 2.39 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. For the Gamecocks that year, he allowed just 20 hits (.204 OBA) and 15 walks (12.9%) while striking out 40 (34.5%). With stats like these, the White Sox selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 draft.

Johnson split time with Great Falls and Kannapolis in 2017, and despite struggles with control, put up reasonably solid numbers considering he was just completing a long season. In a combined 22 games totaling 25 2⁄3 innings, he compiled a 3.86 ERA and 1.75 WHIP by relinquishing 26 hits (.263 OBA) and 19 walks (15.7%) while fanning 37 (30.6%).

The reliever started hitting many prospect lists after a terrific 2018 with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, as he combined to post a spectacular 14 saves, 1.40 ERA and 0.88 WHIP over 41 outings. In Johnson’s 58 innings for both teams, he surrendered just 35 hits (.172 OBA) and 16 walks (7.1%) while striking out a whopping 89 (39.4%).

After missing the first 2 1⁄2 months of the 2019 season with a lat strain, Johnson pitched in 10 rehab outings with the AZL White Sox and Winston-Salem before finally donning the Birmingham Barons uniform on July 22. In 12 games for the Barons spanning 18 1⁄3 innings, Johnson posted a respectable 3.44 ERA and 0.87 WHIP by ceding just 10 hits (.154 OBA) and six walks (8.5%) while striking out 23 (32.4%).

With the minor league season cancelled, Johnson was assigned to the alternate site in Schaumburg for the 2020 season, but was not activated.

The 2021 season was largely a lost one for Johnson. Aside from a combined injury rehabbing with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem where he performed well, the rest of the season was a nightmare. In 13 appearances for the Knights totaling 12 1⁄3 innings, Johnson posted a 12.41 ERA and 3.00 WHIP by allowing 21 hits (.361 OBA) and 16 walks (21.1%) while striking out 17 (22.4%). Obviously things weren’t quite right for him, and he eventually needed season-ending surgery.

In order for the White Sox to make room for newly-acquired César Hernández on the 40-man roster in July, the team had to release Johnson. To add insult to injury, Johnson didn’t know that he was released until he was reading his Twitter timeline after the surgery.

Fortunately, the White Sox have re-added Johnson into the fold and he should be ready to pitch at some point in 2022. The injury, and its ensuing results, led him to fall off many of the team’s Top 30 prospect lists. Before MLB Pipeline removed him from its Top 30, it assigned him a 65-grade fastball, which runs 92-96 mph but tops out at 98. Other pitches in Johnson’s arsenal include a 50-grade slider and 45-grade changeup. (Lefties hit only .156 against him while with Birmingham in 2019, so the changeup may actually be better than the grade.) Johnson’s control is graded at 50, as he has walked hitters at a 9.5% clip in his three-year professional career. However, that control can be tolerated as long as he maintains his career 35.8% strikeout rate.

While Johnson has lost some shine off of his prospect status, he will still have a shot to play for the White Sox in 2022. He’ll first have to show that he’s fully healed and closer to his 2018 form than the 2021 version.

2022 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

41. Tyler Johnson, RHRP
42. Andrew Perez, LHRP
43. Tyler Neslony, LF
44. Theo Denlinger, RHRP
45. Hunter Schryver, LHRP
46. Jefferson Mendoza, C
47. Harvin Mendoza, 1B
48. Gil Luna Jr. LHRP
49. John Parke, LHSP
50. Victor Quezada, 3B
51. Haylen Green, LHRP
52. Sammy Peralta, LHRP
53. Yoelvin Silven, RHRP
54. Taylor Broadway, RHRP
55. Noah Owen, RHRP
56. Luis Curbelo, 3B
57. Bryce Bush, RF
58. James Beard, CF
59. Xavier Fernández, C
60. Wilber Sánchez, SS
61. Kohl Simas, RHRP
62. Johan Dominguez, RHSP
63. Jagger Rusconi, 2B
64. Ronaldo Guzman, LHSP
65. Laz Rivera, 3B
66. Adam Hackenberg, C
67. Will Kincanon, RHRP
68. Lane Ramsey, RHRP
69. Tommy Sommer, LHSP
70. Randel Mondesi, RF
71. Shawn Goosenberg, 2B
72. Zack Muckenhirn, LHRP
73. Cameron Butler, CF
74. Godwin Bennett, RF
75. Logan Glass, CF
76. Dario Borrero, 1B
77. Craig Dedelow, RF
78. Carlos Hinestroza, RHRP
79. Gunnar Troutwine, C
80. Kade Mechals, RHSP
81: Caberea Weaver, CF
82. Layant Tapia, SS
83. Homer Cruz, RHRP
84. Kaleb Roper, RHSP
85. Jerry Burke, RHSP
86. Emerson Talavera, RHRP
87. Isaiah Carranza, RHSP
88. Davis Martin, RHSP
89. Tyler Osik, 1B
90. Samil Polanco, 3B
91. Manuel Veloz, RHRP
92. Pauly Milto, RHRP
93. Fraser Ellard, LHRP
94. Colby Smelley, C
95. Manuel Guariman, C
96. Everhett Hazelwood, RHRP
97. Garrett Schoenle, LHRP
98. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
99. Anderson Comas, RF
100. Jake Elliott, RHRP