Greenville Drive update: Brian Johnson, Austin Maddox, Cody Kukuk

Matt Ryerson-US PRESSWIRE

Johnson is improving, Maddox returns from the disabled list, and Kukuk is in a rut.

Brian Johnson, LHP

Year Age Tm Lg Lev ERA GS IP BF WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 22 Greenville SALL A 4.03 9 38.0 170 1.395 8.5 0.7 4.0 9.2 2.29
2 Seasons 3.50 13 43.2 189 1.282 7.8 0.6 3.7 8.9 2.39
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2013.

Johnson has been pretty solid of late, but one awful appearance kind of ruined the whole thing. Back on May 15, the southpaw lasted just 3-1/3 innings while allowing allowing six runs and walking a pair. In the three games following that disaster, though, he's compiled 14 innings, 19 strikeouts, and limited the opposition to just four walks and six runs. That's more like the Brian Johnson you'd like to see, the one the Red Sox felt they drafted with their first supplemental pick exactly one year ago today.

He was believed to be polished coming out of Florida, but a line drive to the head ended his 2012 campaign prematurely, and slowed his transition to the pros somewhat. If he keeps pitching like he has in his last few outings, though, it'll be safe to say the cobwebs are no more. In theory, he should be able to rise through the system quickly, but he'll need to prove he's got the Sally League down first.

*****

Austin Maddox, RHP

Year Age Tm Lg Lev ERA G IP BF WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 22 Greenville SALL A 7.81 10 40.1 196 1.785 12.9 1.8 3.1 7.6 2.43
2 Seasons 6.70 14 48.1 226 1.655 11.9 1.5 3.0 7.8 2.63
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2013.

Maddox missed time with elbow tightness that put him on the minor-league DL back on May 23, but that's cleared up to the point where he's once again active. He's shown flashes of quality in his 10 games, but has, as you can guess by his lofty ERA, struggled immensely overall. His most recent outing was a good one, though, with Maddox going five innings while allowing one run, with three strikeouts and two walks. It's not the best start, but you'll take it considering it brought his ERA down nearly a full run.

Homers have been the primary issue for Maddox, as he's given up two in a contest three times already this year, and until his last appearance was allowing just over two per nine innings. He'll need to improve his command and keep the ball down more often to avoid the long ball -- he's inducing more ground outs than air outs to this point, but the ones that catch air are going a bit too far for that to mean much on its own.

*****

Cody Kukuk, LHP

Year Age Tm Lg Lev ERA G IP BF WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 20 Greenville SALL A 5.45 10 34.2 159 1.558 6.0 0.3 8.0 7.3 0.90
2 Seasons 4.43 15 44.2 199 1.343 5.2 0.2 6.9 8.9 1.29
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2013.

As a 20-year-old in a league where the average pitcher is nearly 22, one with all of 44 professional innings to his credit, you can cut Kukuk some slack for his performance. It's hard to look the other way when he's walked 31 batters in just under 35 frames, though, especially when he has fewer punch outs than free passes. Lefties who immediately get it are hard to find, though, so Kukuk might be the kind of pitcher that is difficult to evaluate statistically until year's end.

The skills are definitely there, but the experience is not. Hopefully, the beatings he is taking in the first two months of his first full season help him develop those skills.

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