After a weekend 1-2 series loss to the Chico Outlaws, kick-started by a fireworks boondoggle, that also sees the Outlaws in sole possession of first place; now is as good a time as any to meet the new guy.
Fresh from the release of Tha O.V., the Vipers signed first baseman Clint Johnston. Johnston was drafted in the first round, 15th overall, in 1998 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although it appears that a lot of teams would have drafted Johnston based on his ability to hit the ball, the Pirates drafted him as a left-handed pitcher. When Johnston found his way to the Toronto Blue Jays organization in 2002, he was a hitter again.
It’s a strange and unusual career path, so it’s fitting he now finds himself in a baseball league that embraces the strange and unusual. Johnston played, and played well, in the Northern League in 2007 and in the Atlantic League in 2008.
With only two other left-handed sticks in the batting line-up (Rob Recuenco and Drew Miller), plus the switch-hitting Jorge Mejia (who looked real good batting left-handed on the Hallowed Grounds of Foothills Stadium last Wednesday), Clint Johnston fills a need in the batting line-up.
Johnston, who will be turning 32 this summer, can hit for power and has shown good patience at the plate in the past. It doesn’t look like he runs a lot, but his batting average, on-base-percentage, and slugging percentage look to more than make up for it. He played a little outfield in 2003, but unless the Vipers plan to have him pitch a few innings in relief now and then (this is the Golden League, so don’t rule anything out), I think it’s safe to say Johnston will be solely playing 1B or DH when he’s in the line-up. This should give the Vipers the following platoons and substitution options:
- First Base:
- Platoon: Ivan Reyes, GLROTY Colin Moro, Terry Mermer, Clint Johnston
- Third Base:
- Platoon: Rob Recuenco, Ivan Reyes
- Regulars: Drew Miller, Fehlandt Lentini, Mark Okano
- Sub: GLROTY Colin Moro, Terry Mermer
The middle of the infield is set with Mejia and Nelson Castro, and with three options at first base that don’t include Ivan Reyes, I think it’s possible that Reyes stays on the left side of the infield for the foreseeable future. I haven’t seen Mermer play the outfield yet this season, but he has in the past.
With Reyes (RH) and Recuenco (LH) sharing third, and with Moro (RH), Mermer (RH) and Johnston (LH) sharing first, I think we might see the following infield in the following situations:
- Versus right-handed pitching:
- 1B: Johnston, 3B: Recuenco, DH: (Moro/Mermer/Reyes)
- Versus left-handed pitching:
- 1B: (Moro/Mermer), 3B: Reyes, DH: (Johnston/Mermer/Moro)
Calgary starts a series versus the Colombia Yuma Scorpions tonight, and they return home to host the Orange County Flyers in a GBL Championship rematch starting this Friday. Be there and be loud, Calgary.