Jake Johansen, BA’s #13 NYPL Prospect

Baseball America has issued its Top 20 prospects for the New York-Penn League and coming in at #13 is Jacob Johansen.

Thanks to the decision to sign a free-agent closer, which forfeited their 1st round pick, the Washington Nationals’ first pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft did not come until the 29th pick of the 2nd round, 68th overall. With it, the Nats chose Johansen out of Dallas Baptist — an under-the-radar pick who immediately begat comparisons to Nathan Karns, as both put up less-than-stellar numbers in college, pitched in high school and collegiately in Texas, and were power arms with control issues.

Obviously, the comparisons end with Johansen not suffering an injury and dominating the NYPL — holding opponents to a .147 BA, while hanging a 1.06/2.77/0.92 pitcher’s line (ERA/FIP/WHIP) over 10 starts. He finished the season in Hagerstown, where he was knocked around in his final two regular-season starts before tossing five shutout innings for the “W” in the Suns sole victory in the Sally League Finals against the league-champion Savannah Sand Gnats.

The knock on Johansen prior to the draft was on his mechanics and approach, which BA mentioned in the course of its writeup as such:

The Nationals got him to simplify his approach this summer, attacking hitters with power stuff rather than trying to trick them. Though his command and his secondary stuff remain works in progress, Johansen dominated this summer with a premium fastball that sat at 94-96 mph with heavy sink and topped out at 99.

The rest of his arsenal is described as CV, CH, and depending on whom you ask, a SL or CT. For a more detailed look at Johansen, check out Ryan Kelley’s take via District Sports Page from this past August.

Unlike Giolito, I don’t think Johansen will skip ahead to Potomac. With Giolito, repeating Auburn means waiting until June whereas Johansen can begin in Hagerstown and be moved up by mid-to-late May just like (aw, crap – sometimes comps just sneak up on you) Karns in 2012.

Next up: BA will be ranking the Top 20 Sally League prospects, then a look at the 2013 GCL Nationals.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of NationalsProspects.com. Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

11 thoughts on “Jake Johansen, BA’s #13 NYPL Prospect”

  1. I’m cautiously optimistic about Johansen, although obviously it’s way too early to tell. With the size and the power arm he certainly fits the Rizzo mold.

    Luke, what do you think about Randy Knorr as a managerial candidate for the Nats? Given his history in the system, any thoughts on his attributes/stories or flags to be aware of as the Nats ponder their managerial move?

    1. Maybe I’m biased, but I think Knorr is the best choice. He spent his career as backup and a catcher, both of which tend to make for a better manager. He’s familiar with the current players because he also managed quite a few of them in the minors, and I’m sorry, but the vast majority of managing is done behind the scenes. The transition would be seamless. Not to mention, I’ve heard nothing but good things about how he handles people — never mind that I was always impressed with how well he was able to use his roster and keep guys fresh and productive.

      1. Thanks. That’s pretty much the impression that I’ve had, but you have your ear to the ground more when it comes to the minors. I’d still take Girardi over Knorr. Girardi got his MOY with the Marlins but I think that he did a better job this year keeping the Yankees in it until the end. Get past the NY on the caps, and that roster was held together with duct tape and baling wire. Lyle Overbay? Ichiro? Vernon Wells? Kevin Youklis (briefly)? Chris Stewart? Travis Hafner? With CC Sabathis having a lousy year? Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Yankees. Girardi also has both World Series experience and experience dealing with the media experience, and seems comfortable in his own skin. And suffice it to say, his reaction to ARod getting plunked was much better than Davey’s reaction to Bryce getting plunked.

        But the Yankees know all that, and by all accounts will go to the mat to keep Girardi. If the Nats end up with Knorr, I will be quite content, even optimistic.

        1. I agree with all those things, but I have to believe that the only organization that pluck Girardi away from the Yankees is the Cubs. I’d take him if he were available, though I’d hope that wouldn’t mean losing Knorr.

          1. FWIW, there are sources reporting* that Girardi doesn’t feel that much connection to Chicago since the passing of his father. He’s still likely to stay in NY, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nationals were a more attractive offer to him than the Cubs.


          2. The Yankees want Girardi back; the Cubs want Girardi, and if he wanted to take a year off, he would get a sweet TV deal. If the Nats want to lure him away from those opportunties, they will have to be willing to make him one of the highest paid, if not the highest paid, manager. Word is that the Lerner’s are not jazzed about paying managers top dollar.

            The choice will come down to Knorr and Matt Williams as both would be cheap, they are the opposite of Davey, and Rizzo would be able to influence them.

  2. Hi Luke. Given his raw strength and terrifc numbers, i thought he would have ranked higher. I’m just curious,was his low ranking based on his talent or was it a deep year for the NYPL?

    1. I’m inclined to think it’s more to do with his age (22, turning 23 in January, the oldest on the list) and his previous assessment. The tone of the article was very begrudging, almost as if they were disappointed that he was better than most folks thought.

  3. Did you see that Penn League BA Chat with Aaron Fitt? He had Giolito #1 ahead of Appel, Crawford, Meadows & Harvey but for the innings qualification. Called him a “Monster”. Where do you have him starting the year? Didn’t quite understand your comment about him skipping a level.

    1. As I wrote last week, I think Giolito may actually begin 2014 in Hagerstown, though not for Opening Day — Ray and Cole were held back until May — perhaps even as soon as when the Suns visit August in late April.

      As for Johansen, if he were to begin 2014 in Potomac, he would skip Low-A. It’s been awhile since the Nats have done that — 2009 with Will Atwood & Danny Espinosa, IIRC. My gut says that he’ll start in Hagerstown and if he dominates, he’ll get sent to Potomac by Memorial Day.

      As one of our esteemed commenters (ToddBoss) put it, it’s not where they start that matters – it’s where they finish. After this year with Taylor Jordan, it’s not unthinkable to see Johansen pitch at three levels in 2014.

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