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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Jeff Johnson got his slider going for the Yankees; Saw three major league seasons

Young Yankees starter Jeff Johnson pitched deep into this July 1991 game, giving up just four hits as he got into the ninth in the 2-0 win, The Los Angeles Times wrote. 

Johnson attempted to explain to The Times afterward how he did it, noting it came down to hard work.

"I had a good game tonight," Johnson told The Times. I really had the slider going. I haven't had a good one since I was called up. It's taken a lot of hard work to get it back, but it was sharp tonight."

Johnson had gotten called up the previous month and made his major league debut. He went on to see time in two more big league campaigns, for 38 total appearances.

Johnson's career began in 1988, taken by the Yankees in the sixth round of the draft out of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Johnson started with the Yankees at short-season Oneonta. He went 6-1 over 14 starts, with a 2.98 ERA. He moved  to single-A Prince William  for 1989, then split 1990 between high-A Fort Lauderdale and AA Albany-Colonie.

He started 1991 at AAA Columbus, then, that June, made the Bronx. He got 23 starts for the Yankees and went 6-11, with a 5.95 ERA.

That offseason, as he worked out in Greensboro, N.C., Johnson noted his 1991 stats to The Greensboro News and Record, and he looked ahead.

"I know they weren't that good," Johnson told The News and Record. "I can see that. But the thing is, I know I can do better. I honestly believe I can help a major league team, whether it's the Yankees or somebody else."

Johnson returned to the Yankees for 13 more outings, eight starts, in 1992.  He went 2-3, with a 6.66 ERA. He then closed out his big league career with two final starts for the Yankees in 1993. He saw just 2.2 innings and gave up nine earned.

Johnson finished out 1993 at Columbus, then saw eight final outings with the Indians at AAA Charlotte in 1994 to end his career.

He then coached in high school and college, as worked in mortgages. By 2008, Johnson was back in the minors as a coach. He served that year as pitching coach at single-A Hickory, then later at AA Altoona in 2012. In 2015, he served as pitching coach at rookie Bristol where his manager there Edgar Varela praised his coach to The Bristol Herald Courier.

"First thing that comes to mind with him is competition," Varela told The Herald Courier of Johnson. "He loves to compete. He doesn't like to lose; something that's been ingrained in him since he was a young player. He cares about these young men and pushes them."
1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,710
Made the Majors:1,258-33.9%-X
Never Made Majors:2,452-66.1%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:522
10+ Seasons in the Minors:309

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