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Erik Johnson’s MLB Debut Could’ve Been Much Worse

Erik Johnson, the White Sox pitching prospect that currently has the most promise of anyone in the organization made his debut Wednesday evening. Although his final line (6.0 IP, 5R, 3ER) looks about as pedestrian as can be, what we did see from him should not worry anybody.

Think back to July 30th when Andre Rienzo made his debut for the White Sox.

The Brazilian, highlighted by his bulldog-like demeanor, tossed seven innings of three-run ball. But like other pitchers in the organization, his efficiency with pitches had been his problem in the minor leagues. In that start, he only threw 99 pitches despite taking the team late into the game and walking three Indians hitters.

Unfortunately for Rienzo and his biggest fans, something like throwing strikes doesn't just click for a 25 year-old too often.

So basically in Rienzo's first start, we saw his ceiling in terms of efficiency. Not long later, he started to struggle much more often to stay ahead of hitters. Of late, the walks have been biting him in the behind as his ERA has ballooned to 5.00+.

But with Johnson we have someone who has been a very accurate, under-control, and consistent in the minor leagues. The fact that he looked competent out there on the mound despite being very inefficient means if he can just do what he has his whole life, throw strikes and getting ahead of hitters, the rest should take care of itself and help him find some success.

Through his six innings, he threw 105 pitches, only 60 of which were strikes. He walked three Yankees. In the minor leagues this year, he walked two or fewer hitters in 17 of his 24 starts. And for the most part (outside of his last two starts in AAA), he's been very efficient with his pitches. Check out his gamelog here.

Even if he is hit harder in the MLB than most expect, bad numbers won't be because of control issues like they were Wednesday night. That much I'll guarantee. And please, hold me to it.

So could three earned runs over six innings in Yankee Stadium, the biggest stage in the game against a very hot Yankee squad have been worse? I think we all know the answer to that.

Zachary Gropper

About Zachary Gropper

Zach is the Managing Editor of, and you can follow him on Twitter @zmgrop.