Pirates Sign First-Rounder Termarr Johnson

The Pirates signed fourth overall pick Termarr Johnson this afternoon, the club announced. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports (Twitter link) he’ll receive a $7.219MM signing bonus that’s a bit above the $7.01MM accompanying slot value.

Top two selections Jackson Holliday and Druw Jones were the only players in the class to beat Johnson’s bonus. That’s no surprise, as the left-handed hitting infielder was a consensus top five talent available. FanGraphs and The Athletic each placed Johnson third on their pre-draft rankings. He placed fourth at Baseball America and second at ESPN.

Just as there’s little disagreement about the 18-year-old’s pedigree, reports of his skillset are similar across the board. All four outlets call Johnson a future plus or better hitter, praising both his bat-to-ball skills and surprising bat speed for a 5’8″ player. Keith Law of the Athletic notes that some scouts believe Johnson is the best high school hitter they’ve seen in more than a decade, while ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel indicated his profile is broadly reminiscent to that of José Ramírez or Rafael Devers.

It’d be unfair to expect any high school player to become a superstar of that caliber, but evaluators have been effusive in their praise of his offensive upside. Johnson doesn’t have a traditionally projectable frame given his stature, and all four outlets indicate he’s unlikely to stick at shortstop. There’s a general agreement the Atlanta native could be an impactful bat-first second baseman at his peak, with Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs pointing to Brandon Lowe as a general comp for this style of player.

With Johnson signed, each of the top ten overall selections have agreed to terms. It’s expected that everyone selected on the first day of the draft will sign before Monday’s deadline. Jim Callis of MLB.com wrote this morning that Mets third-round pick Brandon Sproat, a right-hander out of the University of Florida, looks to be the highest selection leaning towards foregoing pro ball this summer.

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