LHP Jay Johnson, who had five saves and a 2.94 ERA with the BlueClaws this year, will pitch for Team Canada in the upcoming IBAF World Cup and Pan-Am Games according to this article on the Canadian Baseball Network.
The IBAF World Cup will take place in Panama City from October 2-15 and the Pan-Am Games are in Guadalajara between October 19-26.
“JJ,” as he was called, is a side-armer from Sussex Corner, New Brunswick in Canada.
Here is a Get to Know piece we did in June on Johnson, who had previously been drafted by both the Orioles and Blue Jays but never signed. He tried out in Arizona for the Phillies in March and signed then, joining the BlueClaws in late-April.
In his first game, he faced four hitters, walked all four, and was removed, an inauspicious debut.
“I was excited, but I didn’t feel the ball that well for some reason. I don’t think I even got a two-strike count,” he joked about it months later.
He threw a scoreless inning the next day and from there was one of Lakewood’s most valuable relief pitchers.
Johnson played a little hockey but didn’t have easy access to a rink, and with an older brother that played baseball, that became his favorite sport. He went to a junior college in Canada and then Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.
“That was prairies too but just not as many dust storms as West Texas in Lubbock,” he said.
After Texas Tech, with no place to play professionally at the time, he helped his father, a fisherman, on the water while working out to get ready.
Team Canada, we’ll note, is managed by Ernie Whitt, Phillies roving catching instructor. He also managed the team in both World Baseball Classics and the 2004 Olympics.
Good luck to Jay and Ernie.