Catching up with Grant Johnson

Often times after a draft, top round picks take some time off, go on vacation, or just sleep late after being chosen by their respective clubs. Not the case for the Cubs' first overall pick in the 2004 draft, Grant Johnson, who is just as hard at work as ever before.

Johnson, a 21-year-old right-hander who went 5-0 with a 1.58 ERA last year at Notre Dame, gave us an update on what all he's been doing since the draft.

"I'm at school right now," Johnson said. "I've been working out really hard. I've been doing a lot of running and things like that. Basically, I've just been staying in shape. I really haven't done too much out of the ordinary."

In fact, it was all the hustling, working out, and staying in shape that made Johnson one of the Irish's top all-around pitchers since New York Mets prospect Aaron Heilman--who Johnson draws comparison to.

"Grant reminds me so much of Aaron," said Notre Dame Head Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri last month. "Quite honestly, they pitch a lot like each other. Grant has that hard, tailing fastball that just sinks down and in on right-handed hitters and tails away from left-handers. Then he comes back with a really outstanding breaking ball. I honestly felt that in Grant's freshman year, he was farther along at that point in his career than Aaron was. That is what excites you so much about Grant."

Johnson combined to go 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA in two seasons at Notre Dame. In those two years, he combined to strike out 137 batters in 159 innings. That 2.89 ERA places him 10th on the Irish's all-time list and in fifth place for the last 10 years. Johnson still has two years of eligibility left.

When asked how contract talks have gone, Johnson replied, "We haven't really set down and talked things out."

One of the Johnson's biggest goals has been to play professional ball while still being able to finish up his degree in Marketing at Notre Dame, something he says Jim Hendry has been very considerate of.

"We [Hendry and I] talked about a few things," said Johnson. "He has agreed to let me go back to school these next two fall's and get my education and finish off my degree.

"Besides that, money really hasn't been talked about too much," he added.

(Photo/ND Sports Info).

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