Stepping up in class, top White Sox prospect Micah Johnson showed he is still on a fast track to the major leagues.
Johnson, a 22-year-old second baseman and the Sox’ ninth-round draft pick out of Indiana University in 2012, played for the Glendale Desert Dogs on Tuesday in the first game of the Arizona Fall League.
After leading the all minor- leaguers with 84 stolen bases during the regular season while playing with Class A Kannapolis, A Winston-Salem and AA Birmingham, Johnson kept it rolling in the AFL.
In Glendale’s 8-8 tie against the Mesa Solar Sox — the game was called after 11 innings — Johnson was 2-for-5 with a walk and 3 runs scored. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder also stole three bases.
Johnson opened the season at Low-A Kannapolis and wasn’t considered a bona fide prospect. But after stealing 61 bases in 77 games, he caught the White Sox’ attention and was promoted.
In 49 games with High-A Winston-Salem, Johnson had 22 steals before adding one more in five games with Birmingham. He went on to lead the Barons to the Southern League title and was named MVP after going 9-for-20 in the championship series.
At the rate he’s going, Johnson might force his way on to the Sox’ 25-man roster during spring training.
Gordon Beckham is the incumbent second baseman, but he also has experience playing third base and was a collegiate shortstop at Georgia.
The White Sox presented Johnson with a commemorative base at U.S. Cellular Field in mid-September, and the young infielder liked the idea of playing full time for the South Siders.
“Chicago, I’m a Midwest guy,” said Johnson, an Indianapolis native. “To be able to be here right now is a pretty cool experience.”
If he continues running wild in the Fall League and makes a good impression in spring training, Johnson could very well stay on the fast track.
“I hope it translates, obviously,” Johnson said of taking his speed game to the majors. “I have kind of a different game. I can hit a home run every now and then, but I can also steal second and third and score a run for you.
“So I don’t know. It’s tough. Jose Reyes is kind of the guy I remember growing up that I watched. He would have 20-some triples per year. He also wasn’t very big, but he would hit home runs every now and then.”
Premier stolen base artists like Rickey Henderson, Joe Morgan and even Ty Cobb all had an air about them, but Johnson still is trying to prove himself.
“I’m not that arrogant, I think,” Johnson said. “I’m a pretty humble guy. When I’m on base, I hope I can get my guy hitting some fastballs. If I’m on base and the pitcher is quick to the plate, if I don’t run, the guy is still going to see fastballs because they are scared.
“It’s a good thing if I don’t go some times. The two-hole hitter will see a fastball that he can handle most of the time.”
• Before opening the 2014 season March 31 with a home game against the Minnesota Twins, the White Sox will play an exhibition game at Class AA Birmingham on March 29. The Sox last played the Barons in 2007.
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