Interview with Neiko Johnson: Houston Astros Prospect and Future Leadoff Man
Thursday December 22, 2011
Jonathan Hacohen: Today on MLB reports we are proud to feature Houston Astros Prospect: Neiko Johnson. Joining the Astros organization as a free agent this past year, Neiko started his career in the New York-Penn League, playing for the Tri-City ValleyCats. Neiko played all over the field in his first season, including outfield, shortstop, second base and third base. A speedster, Neiko successfully stole 21 bases in 25 attempts, playing in 57 games. Even more impressively, Neiko had a .397 OBP. With the ability to get on base and swipe bags in bunches, Neiko has a bright future as a MLB leadoff man. By taking 41 walks and striking out 37 times, Neiko showed a good eye at the plate. At the age of 23, we see a bright future for Neiko Johnson as the Astros answer to Tim Raines, Vince Coleman or even Rickey Henderson. The tools are clearly there for Neiko- now he just needs the time to sharpen his skills and work towards landing in Houston. Plus having Brandon Phillips as a close friend never hurts. Phillips plays the game “the right way” and clearly has had a positive influence on Neiko. The stars are aligned for this young man and we see big things ahead in his future!
Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Nieko Johnson, Houston Astros Prospect:
MLB reports: You played five seasons for the University of Kentucky. Tell us about that experience and why you chose Kentucky for your education?
Neiko Johnson: College was a great experience and I recommend it to all athletes. I believe college helps a young athlete grow into an adult, learn about themselves and many other parts of life. I learned how to manage my time and be more efficient in life, as well as becoming mentally stronger. I chose Kentucky because I wanted to play college for a big D-1 school and the SEC is the best conference in the nation. So it was an easy choice.
MLB reports: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
Neiko Johnson: Derek Jeter.
MLB reports: Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
Neiko Johnson: Brandon Phillips because I am real close friends with him and he has helped lead me down the right path in baseball.
MLB reports: What are your goals going into the 2012 season?
Neiko Johnson: To become a better player every day and give 110% percent.
MLB reports: You were signed as a free agent by the Astros in June 2011. Tell us about that process.
MLB reports: As soon as you signed you were off to Troy to play for the Tri-City ValleyCats. What the heck is a ValleyCat?
Neiko Johnson: HAHA honestly I have no idea what a ValleyCat is! But the fans were awesome and I really enjoyed the environment we played in.
MLB reports: How did you feel going from school to professional baseball? What was the transition like?
Neiko Johnson: I felt good going into pro ball. I was ready because I was mature and knew how to handle myself. The transition was a bit different because in college most things are taken care of for you such as food, housing, workouts, etc. In pro ball, you are basically on your own and you have to become a man in the real world. You have to figure things out as you go along because most things are not taken care of for you like they were in college.
MLB reports: You played all over the field this past season: including shortstop, third base, second base and outfield. What position do you see yourself at long-term?
Neiko Johnson: Whatever position the Astros want me to play is the position I can see myself playing long-term. I am willing to play anywhere as long as I am in the lineup.
MLB reports: What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?
MLB reports: What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?
Neiko Johnson: I wish to improve every facet of my game because I can improve in all areas all the time.
MLB reports: What do you need to do in order to be successful in this game?
Neiko Johnson: You have to love this game and work hard at it because nothing is given you. You have to earn it!
MLB reports: If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?
MLB reports: Favorite baseball movie of all-time?
Neiko Johnson: Major League.
MLB reports: Have you been to Houston yet? Do you own a cowboy hat and boots?
Neiko Johnson: HAHA… nope, not a big cowboy guy. But yes, I have been to Houston. Only once though. In college we played at Minute Maid Park in a tournament during my senior season.
MLB reports: Final Thoughts?
Neiko Johnson: Thank you for the opportunity to answer some questions about my life and career. I will continue to work hard and always keep a good image.
Thank you again to Neiko Johnson for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports. We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Neiko. You can also find Neiko Johnson on Twitter (@ThisIsNJJ)
***The pictures used in today’s feature were provided by Neiko Johnson from his personal collection***
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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Posted on December 22, 2011, in Interviews with MLB Stars and tagged baseball, brandon phillips, derek jeter, houston astros, leadoff man, mlb, neiko johnson, prospect, tri-city, valleycats. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.