Q & A with Rob Johnson

APPLETON, Wisc. - One of the most pleasant surprises in the Mariners' farm system this season has been the emergence of Rob Johnson, a catcher drafted in the fourth round out of the University of Houston in 2004. Talented on both sides of the ball, he's shot up the prospect charts and been one of the top backstops in the Midwest League. InsidethePark's Jeff Harrison caught up with Johnson recently for some off-the-wall questions.

InsidethePark.com: How did you choose baseball as your sport?

Rob Johnson: It's kind of interesting. There isn't high school baseball where I come from in Montana so you just play in the summers. I played three other sports - track, basketball, and a little golf during my freshman and sophomore years. My dad and my grandpa had big time interests in baseball and it kind of followed through to me. I was always watching.

ITP: Did that make it difficult to get recruited in college?

Johnson: No, because I was getting recruited in other sports as well. But I knew that I wanted to play baseball so I limited my options down just to baseball schools.

ITP: How did you choose the catching position?

Johnson: I just loved that position; it's the leadership role position. It's very physically demanding which I like. I like being in every play I think it was the best fit for me. I'm not the fastest guy in the word, but I am quick, I have quick feet. I think I have the mental game to be able to call the game.

ITP: What player do you admire?

Johnson: Probably old time guys like Johnny Bench that came from nothing and pure work ethic, getting to the big leagues.

ITP: What player would you compare yourself to?

Johnson: It'd obviously be a catcher, probably "Pudge" (Ivan Rodriguez). I have inspirations to be like him, work hard and try to get where he is.

ITP: What would you be doing if you were not a baseball player?

Johnson: Probably hanging out with my girlfriend. I don't know what I'd be doing. Probably still be going to school trying to get my degree in some type of business with communications.

ITP: What is a typical day off like for you?

Johnson: Nothing. I do absolutely nothing. I lay on the couch and watch TV, make a few phone calls and that's it.

ITP: What is your favorite thing about playing in Wisconsin?

Johnson: Probably the fans, I love the fans here. They let you know when you do well and they let you know when you do bad and I kind of like that. I haven't really played in front of a lot of fans. I've played in front of fans but not consistently as many fans as around here and I like our fans.

ITP: What was your favorite road trip?

Johnson: It'd have to be somewhere there is a casino. Probably the Quad Cities or Clinton, one of the two, not that Clinton is the nicest stadium. Actually it was probably Peoria during the all-star game. When we went on that trip it was a lot of fun. That was my best road trip because it was the all-star game.

ITP: Are you a big trash talker to the opposing batters?

Johnson: No I have a lot of good friends throughout the league and I'll BS a little bit and talk. That's a way of also getting in a hitters head is you just talk. Say, "Man we can't get you out today," and the next thing you know they're swinging for the fences. But no I don't really trash talk that much, just say what's up and go about my business.

ITP: What is your favorite on-field promotion? Are you an oversized boxing guy?

Johnson: Yeah I like that, I also like sumo wrestling. I like the tug of war when the guys have the strings connected and two huge guys go out there, that's cool to watch. And I like it for the kids too, when they do that bouncy ball deal and they're falling off. We have some pretty good on-field promotions.

ITP: What is the biggest difference between the college and minor league game?

Johnson: Just in college it's a way of getting through school. It's totally a different game. A lot of guys take the minors a lot more serious. The biggest thing on field is the bats, the difference between the wood and aluminum, because the pitchers up here are so much better. They have a lot better stuff, you're consistently seeing 90 plus, and you don't see a lot of guys coming in throwing 80.

Seattle Clubhouse Top Stories