Ben Johnson is a 6-foot-1-inch, 185 pound outfielder that will be joining the Longhorns from Westwood High School. Born and raised in an Austin baseball family, Johnson is expected to make a smooth transition into the outfield at the Disch in 2013. His older brother, William, plays baseball for Vanderbilt. Ben made a name for himself while with the Warriors by showing off his quick feet in the outfield and a strong bat at the plate. During his junior year, Johnson batted .477 with 7 home runs. He was named to the All-Central Texas First Team by the Austin American-Statesman as a junior, and received All-District 16-5A First Team honors multiple times. A two-sport star at Westwood (he was also the school’s starting quarterback), Johnson has decided to focus on baseball, and the coaches at Texas couldn’t be happier with his decision. Tommy Harmon had great things to say about Johnson after he committed, saying, “Ben is a great athlete from Austin Westwood. He fits in the mold with the rest of these guys, with a plus throwing arm and plus speed. He has thrown for 1,000 yards and ran for 1,000 yards in football this year, so that tells you what kind of athlete he is. He is a great competitor and he has a very good future in baseball.”
During his senior year, Johnson batted .462, including 8 doubles and 5 home runs, and scored 27 runs. He had a slugging percentage of .775 and an on-base percentage of .537. His skill set and stats began to draw even more attention from pro-level scouts, but Johnson stayed true to his word. After being selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 34th round of the draft, Ben and his family made it clear that he would be playing for Augie Garrido before going pro. The Austin American-Statesman said that “An undisclosed team wanted to select Johnson in a much earlier round…, even making him a decent offer, but he told the club he would not sign.” To see his talent in action, check out this video of Ben Johnson hitting a home run during his senior year:
Since graduating, Johnson has continued working on improving over the summer. He joined up with fellow freshmen Jeremy Montalbano and Chad Hollingsworth in the Heartland Baseball Classic, helping team Texas go 8-0. Johnson was named MVP of that tournament with 13 RBIs. We were able to ask Ben a few questions recently, and he told us about his choice to join the Longhorns and what it has been like watching his older brother play D1 baseball.
TBB: After offers from other quality D1 programs and the Braves, what has made you so confident in your decision to choose Texas?
BJ: With the resources that Texas provides you from both an academic and athletic standpoint, it’s off the charts. There isn’t another university like Texas.
TBB: What has it been like watching your older brother play college baseball for Vanderbilt? Has growing up with him inspired or motivated you as a player?
BJ: It has been a great honor to watch my brother/best friend play at the D1 level. He has definitely inspired and motivated me to play D1 baseball.
TBB: As a fellow Westwood alumni, what did you learn in your high school career that you are eager to use at the Disch?
BJ: I learned how to fight through adversity. No matter what the score is, you can’t ever quit and you just have to keep fighting back.
TBB: What are your goals for yourself and the team in 2013?
BJ: Do whatever I can to help this team get back to Omaha. One of the reasons I chose Texas was the winning tradition and I want to help continue that.
TBB: Who is your favorite former Longhorn? Favorite MLB player?
BJ: I have 3. Drew Bishop, Marcus Hendry, and Drew Stubbs. My favorite MLB player is Mike Trout.
Ben Johnson will join a crowded and talented outfield for the Longhorns this spring, but we at Texas Baseball Blog project he will find his way into the lineup quickly. You can follow him on Twitter @ben_johnson14.