Brent Johnson (Photo/Everett Aqua Sox)
APPLETON, Wisc. - Last year was a very long and disappointing season for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The team finished the 2004 season 26 games out of first place with an abysmal 57-82 record.
This season is looking very different. Wisconsin is loaded with talent, with players such as Matt Tuiasosopo, Yung Chi Chen and Asdrubal Cabrera on the roster. A name often overlooked is that of Brent Johnson, a multi-talented OF/3B out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
The former 14th round pick might not get the type of attention that some of his teammates do, but don’t let that fool you. Johnson has the skills, work ethic and mentality needed to succeed.
“Brent is a hard worker, he has great dedication,” said Wisconsin hitting coach Tommy Cruz. “He is a guy you like to have on the ball club, because he’s a go-getter.”
When watching Brent play, his biggest asset is his versatility. He’s a unique player because he is impressive both at the plate and in the field, where he can play just about anywhere.
Johnson is a very smart and dedicated hitter. Last season with Everett, he hit .296 with a .396 on base percentage. He has not started out as quickly this season, but shown steady improvement nonetheless.
“He showed a lot of ability last year at Everett,” said Wisconsin manager Scott Steinmann, in his first year as skipper of the Timber Rattlers. “So far he’s trying to get his niche. He’s getting his hits down, having better and better AB’s every day.”
In the field, Johnson’s natural abilities shine. He has tremendous athleticism and arm strength, which allows him to play a variety of positions. Johnson’s flexibility is a valuable tool for both him and team, giving him the opportunity to play regularly and the coaching staff the ability to rotate players. In other words, his presence is a luxury any team would like to have.
“I see myself as more of a utility player. I’m fortunate enough to where I can play most positions in the field,” said Johnson. “So that kind of helps me, gives me an advantage in a sense.”
Brent was very successful with the Aqua Sox last season and is looking to build on that success. He would like continue to improve from what he accomplished in 2004 and, in doing so, become a more consistent player.
“My goals are pretty much the same; have more walks than strikeouts, try to hit .300 or better, “said Johnson. “And as long as I’m consistent I’ll be satisfied, because that’s the biggest thing when you play 140-plus games.”
Despite the lack of attention Johnson might receive, his manager has great expectations for the 22-year-old.
“I hope he can duplicate that this year,” said Steinmann. “Time will tell, and the way he goes about his business… he works hard everyday, he gets in the cage and gets his work done in there. He’s a professional on the field so I don’t see why he wouldn’t have that success of last year.”
While Brent stands out on the field as a multi-dimensional ballplayer, he also stands out off the field as well. He is a very mature player who is very appreciative of the abilities he possesses, and the opportunities they have given him.
And he knows it is important to strive to be successful, but not get too wrapped up in things. He doesn’t worry about receiving a lot of attention, instead focusing on working hard and enjoying what he is doing.
“I don’t try to put pressure on myself, “ said Johnson. “The biggest thing is to try to have fun and not let that get into your head too much and just try to play the game and do what you can do for the time being.”