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:

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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.

Neiko Johnson:  I worked out for the Houston Astros in my hometown Atlanta, GA.  That same day they called back wanting to sign me which was a blessing and I’m very thankful for.

 

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)?

Neiko Johnson:  My speed and awareness of the game.

 

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?

Neiko Johnson:  I just need to continue to work hard and stay dedicated to the process.  When the time is right I will eventually make it to the big leagues.

 

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)

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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About Jonathan Hacohen

I practice daily yoga. Most foods are organic. If you catch me in the supermarket, it will be in the produce aisle. Warrior 1 Yoga was born from my wish to help people be healthy and happy. I preach the 4 key's to life: nutrition, exercise, water and sleep. This is my journey - I am hope to meet you along the way to share a similar path!

Posted on December 22, 2011, in Interviews with MLB Stars and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Neiko-We loved watching you play at the Joe last summer!mWe called you Speedy.
    It was obvious that you always tried your best and were always focused. Thanks for a great summer!

  2. I sure hope that when you say “Plus having Brandon Phillips as a close friend never helps.” you meant “hurts” instead of “helps”. I’m a big fan of B Phillips – I think he’s a heck of a player, and seems to do good things for his fans and community.

    • Good catch- already updated! He’s Neiko and BP are very tight. Phillips has been a great influence on Neiko. Thank you for reading and appreciate you taking the time today for your comments!

  3. I saw Neiko at a game in Troy last summer and was very impressed with his game. I hope we get to see him at higher and higher levels over the coming years.

  4. thank you for loving on my little cousin. he is so adorable to us and we love both of his parents. he has big brothers who are just as wonderful. they make our family sooooo proud. it’s always a joy when they get to visit us in rome, ga.
    neiko, much love and prayer are thrown your way. may God continue to keep a hedge of protection around. you’re such a maturing young man and we still want to baby you!

    continue to love the Lord…………………………..your family in rome,ga.

    • That is so beautiful. Thank you for writing in and sharing your thoughts. I’m sure Neiko appreciates it!

      Be well and all the best! Please feel free to write in any time. Always happy to hear from a baseball fan :)

  1. Pingback: Zach Johnson Interview: The Baseball Prospect Road from Oklahoma to Houston « MLB reports

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