25th round pick CF Taylor Johnson U of Washington
Born July 25, 1983, in Vancouver, Wash. ... son of Charles and Terri Johnson ... has a younger sister, Kelsey, a standout soccer player at Bellevue Community College ... majoring in sociology.
2004 (Junior) - Started a total of 44 games for the Huskies, 25 in center field and 19 in right ... was the most regular starter in right the last month of the season after Lillibridge's move to center ... one of three Huskies with double-digit stolen bases, with a career-best 10 in 13 attempts ... had a hot stretch over 13 games in late April and the first half of May, going 17-for-37 (.459) with 12 runs and 15 RBI ... drove in winning run in the 10th May 14 at USC as UW came back from 6-0 down to win, 8-6 ... 5-for-7, three doubles May 11-12 vs. Portland ... started all three vs. No. 1 Stanford, batting 3-for-9 for the weekend ... 3-for-7 with two homers and six runs batted in at Oregon State ... grand slam May 2 at OSU ... 2-for-4 with a triple at Georgia Tech ... homered in ninth Mar. 23 at Gonzaga ... had a good opening weekend vs. Gonzaga ... provided game-winning RBI in Feb. 21 win, singling to drive in Lillibridge in the eighth ... two-run HR Feb. 23 in 3-0 win ... played summer ball for the Seattle Studs, making second-team all-league after batting .314 with four homers and 24 RBI in 29 league starts ... went to the National Baseball Congress World Series with the Studs, starting all four of their games there ... named the No. 8 prospect in the Pacific International League by Baseball America ... 2003 (Sophomore) - Started 44 of 60 games in right field and 45 total ... slumped a bit at the plate in the late-going, and only started two of the season's final 13 games ... started, walked and scored in the May 31 game vs. Long Beach State at the NCAA Regional ... 2-for-3 vs. Lewis-Clark State ... 2-for-4 Apr. 25 vs. Cal ... went 6-for-7 with a grand slam and five RBIs in Apr. 21 doubleheader vs. Hawaii-Hilo ... had a hit in seven straight ABs, dating back to previous game ... hit fifth homer of the year in Mar. 16 win over Cal State Northridge ... two homers in final two ABs in Mar. 7 win over Washington State ... followed that with a homer in his first at bat at Oregon State ... four hits in the Mar. 11 win at OSU ... 5-for-10 with four runs in OSU series March 11-12 ... 3-for-12 with six RBIs in WSU series ... homer and four RBI Mar. 1 vs. CSUN ... played summer ball for Bourne (Mass) in the Cape Cod League ... 2002 (Freshman) - Finished the season as the regular starter in right field against right-handed starters ... started 21 of the last 33 in right field, usually as the leadoff hitter ... also started four in CF ... Huskies went 15-6 in games in which he started in right field ... started all five games at the NCAA Regional ... 3-for-5 May 18 at Oregon State ... 2-for-6 with a two-run homer in game two May 14 vs. Gonzaga ... 2-for-3 May 10 at USC ... hit three homers in his last nine regular-season starts ... homered in both games (May 7-8) vs. Portland and went 4-for-9 in the two games ... 2-for-3 May 5 in lone UCLA start that weekend ... started all three in RF and leadoff vs. Cal, going 3-for-12 with two RBI and two assists ... got a start April 16 vs. Lewis-Clark State (2-for-5 with a double) and then started in right field and in the leadoff spot in both of the wins over Stanford ... first career hit was a solo homer Feb. 26 at Portland ... played summer ball for Bend (Ore.) in the Pacific International League, batting .326 with a wood bat in 15 league games ... also walked 11 times and stole eight bases in league play for the Elks.
Skyview High School
Earned three varsity baseball letters at Skyview ... also earned three letters each in football and basketball ... first-team all-league in baseball all three seasons ... also a first-team all-leaguer in basketball and second-team in football as a senior ... batted .408 as a sophomore, .508 as a junior and .378 as a senior ... named team's offensive MVP his junior and senior years and played in the Area Code Games in 2000 ... all-state and a member of the Washington state all-star team that swept Oregon's all-stars ... drafted in the 39th round by Pittsburgh in the June, 2001 draft ... team captain as a junior and senior ... also team captain as a junior and senior in basketball ... team captain and offensive MVP of his football team as a senior ... graduated with a 3.6 GPA and was nominated for a National Football Foundation scholarship.
TAYLOR JOHNSON'S CAREER BATTING STATISTICS:
Year Avg. G/GS AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI Slg% BB HBP SO OB% SF SH SB/A
2002 .278 34/26 108 23 30 6 0 4 13 .444 11 3 19 .361 0 3 6/10
2003 .264 47/45 163 38 43 6 0 6 25 .411 19 4 36 .349 3 5 6/10
2004 .265 53/44 148 28 38 9 1 5 27 .432 23 7 43 .374 4 4 10/13
Totals .265 134/115 419 89 111 21 1 15 65 .427 53 14 98 .361 7 12 22/33
By Terry Wood
Special to The Seattle Times
t wasn't the South Beach Diet, a new yoga posture, the conjunction of Venus and Neptune or an intervention orchestrated by Dr. Phil.
But something has flipped the switch for Washington senior right fielder Taylor Johnson. And after three relatively modest, though respectable, collegiate seasons, he's now putting up numbers that are borderline bodacious.
Johnson, a left-handed hitter from Skyview High School in Vancouver who boasts a career .265 average, leads the Huskies with a .350 average and is tops in hits (35), walks (18), on-base percentage (.467) and steals (11 in 14 attempts). He is second in runs batted in (25).
He'll be the leadoff hitter when Washington hosts USC (15-8, 1-2) in its conference home opener at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Husky Ballpark, where UW is 10-0 this season. The two teams meet again tomorrow and Sunday for 1 p.m. games.
Johnson's consistent stroke prompted Huskies coach Ken Knutson earlier this season to elevate Johnson from the No. 2 slot to the top of the order, and UW is 13-3 in games with Johnson batting leadoff.
"It's nice to get off to a good start this year," said Johnson, a former all-state high-school star who batted .508 in his junior year as a prep. "Until now I haven't had the level of success that I've wanted in college. I put a little too much pressure on myself these last few years."
Mechanically, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Johnson says he has shortened his swing this season without sacrificing his ability to hit for power to any field. He's tied for the team lead in home runs, with six.
It's a new mental outlook, though, that Johnson credits most for sustaining his consistency.
"I'm a lot more confident this year," he said. "I have a better attitude, too. I've never been a guy who throws his helmet around after an out, but in the past if I make an out, I'd really get down on myself and it would show.
"Now I realize that I'm a good player and I can get it done. If I make an out, it's not the end of the world. It just took me four years to figure it out."
A few tips from Frank Bartenetti, a UW fan and motivational speaker (and Knutson's former Little League coach), helped Johnson strengthen his mental game.
"He says success is all about having a good attitude, making good things happen for yourself," Johnson said. "I'm using that this year. I don't take batting practice as seriously as I used to do. I'm trying to be a little more laid back and have a good, positive approach.
"Baseball is a negative game. We fail more times than we succeed at the plate. So you start talking to yourself, getting down on yourself. But you've got to tell yourself that you'll get another at-bat, have another game. You've just got to try and stay positive."
Knutson, in his 13th season at UW, understands the mind-set.
"All baseball players want to be good, and they get in trouble when they try too hard," he said. "Maturity comes when they understand the ups and downs of the game so they don't lose their big-picture mentality.
"Taylor's been a real good player for us for four years, and he now knows more about his swing and has learned not to get frustrated."
Johnson spent the summer of 2003 playing in the Cape Cod League, a semipro showcase for top prospects, but found himself at odds with his team's coach.
"I don't think he liked West Coast guys," Johnson said.
So he stayed local last summer, joining UW teammates Tim Lincecum and Nick Batkoski on the Seattle Studs of the Pacific International League. Johnson batted .314 and was a second-team all-league pick.
"I don't know when it happened, but last summer something just clicked with my swing," he said. "Summer ball is nice. Coaches give us suggestions but not a lot of instruction. We make our own adjustments and just feel the game out, like we did when we were younger. You have a bad game, you just go play another game and work things out."
Johnson, who was drafted by Pittsburgh in the 39th round after his senior year in high school, went undrafted after his junior year at UW, the time when most top college players jump to the pros. He's hoping his productive senior year will put him on scouts' radar again.
"We all want to be All-Americans and top-round draft choices," he said. "But I have no regrets about going to college. I've had a lot of fun playing at UW. Hopefully, I'll get the opportunity to play professionally next year."