Durham, N.C. – Sioux City Explorers RHP Patrick Johnson was named the American Association Pitcher of the Year on Saturday, in a vote of league managers and media members.
In 20 starts for the Explorers, Johnson put together one of the most impressive seasons in league history, going 15-1 with a 2.08 ERA, currently third-best in the AA, and 132 strikeouts, second-most in the loop. Opponents hit a meager .194 off of the native of Hickory, N.C., who walked just 40 hitters in 134 innings of work.
The 15 wins tie Johnson with St. Paul LHP Kramer Sneed for the league lead, and have also tied a league record (Wichita RHP Josh Lowey went 15-4 in 2012) and broken a Sioux City franchise record. The 132 strikeouts are an Explorers franchise mark as well.
Johnson has been a linchpin for Sioux City during its dominant 2015 season, in which the club has already set the league record with 74 victories and is on pace to break the league mark for lowest team ERA (currently at 3.05; the previous record, 3.38, was set by Wichita in 2013.)
The 27-year-old is in his second season with Sioux City, after finishing first in the AA with 106 strikeouts representing his club in the American Association All-Star Game in 2014. Prior to Sioux City, Johnson spent three seasons in the Colorado Rockies’ system after being drafted in the 25th round in 2011. He played collegiately at North Carolina, where he was a member of three College World Series squads.
Johnson is the second Sioux City pitcher to win an American Association Pitcher of the Year award, after Nick Singleton was named the league’s top righthanded pitcher in 2008 (prior to 2011, the league gave separate awards for righthanded and lefthanded pitchers).
American Association Pitchers of the Year
2015: Patrick Johnson, Sioux City
2014: Nick Hernandez, Winnipeg
2013: Taylor Stanton, Fargo-Moorhead
2012: Josh Lowey, Wichita
2011: Ben Moore, Sioux Falls
2010: LHP – Chris Salberg, Sioux Falls; RHP – Ben Moore, Sioux Falls
2009: LHP – Brad Davis, Wichita; RHP – Derek Blacksher, Wichita
2008: LHP – Joel Kirsten, Fort Worth; RHP – Nick Singleton, Sioux City
2007: LHP – Joel Kirsten, Fort Worth; RHP – Pat Mahomes, Sioux Falls
2006: LHP – Lindsay Gulin, Lincoln; RHP – Cory Walters, Fort Worth
Photo: Sioux City Explorers