Baseball
Illini Sign Canadian Catcher
 

 
Aaron Johnson is Illinois' third Canadian catcher signee and fourth overall in seven years.
Aaron Johnson is Illinois' third Canadian catcher signee and fourth overall in seven years.
 
 

July 23, 2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois head baseball coach Dan Hartleb announced Monday the signing of catcher Aaron Johnson (Sussex Corner, New Brunswick) to a National Letter of Intent. Johnson, who will enroll as a sophomore in August, will bolster the Illini catching corps and look to build on the growing tradition of Canadian backstops at Illinois. He follows Chris Robinson and Lars Davis as recent imports behind the plate, with both former Illini being drafted in the third round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in 2005 and 2007, respectively.

"He's along the lines of our former Canadian catchers," said Illinois assistant coach Eric Snider, who was the lead recruiter on Johnson. "He can catch and throw, and he handles the bat very well."

Johnson has followed a path similar to that of former Illini catcher Lars Davis, a recent third-round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies. Following high school, Johnson was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 46th round of the 2006 MLB Draft but instead went to Lethbridge College. He starred at Lethbridge's Prairie Baseball Academy for two seasons, most recently hitting .333 (24-of-72) with 30 RBI, seven doubles, a homer, a .500 on-base percentage and 9-of-12 stolen bases while starting 23 of the 24 games he played.

He is currently playing for the Lethbridge Bulls of the Western Major Baseball League, a summer wood-bat league similar to summer leagues in the U.S., and is hitting .341 in 20 games with 18 RBI, 15 runs, eight doubles, a triple and two homers for a .529 slugging percentage. He also has thrown out 6-of-17 (35 percent) runners attempting stolen bases.

"Offensively, he's another kid who's used a wood bat his whole life, so it'll be his first time with aluminum," Snider said. "He's an RBI guy who has a little juice in his bat, so he has some tools."

Aaron Johnson
C // So. // 6-0 // 195 // R/R
Sussex Corner, New Brunswick // Sussex Regional HS // Lethbridge College

Notes: Currently hitting .341 for Lethbridge Bulls of Western Major Baseball League in Canada ... Has 18 RBI, eight doubles and 15 runs in 20 games, along with 6-of-17 would-be base-stealers thrown out ... Hit .333 with 30 RBI, seven doubles, a homer, a .500 on-base percentage and 9-of-12 stolen bases for Prairie Baseball Academy in 2007 ... Led his U-17 team to a national championship by hitting .370 with two homers in the finals ... Drafted in the 46th round by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2006 ... Younger brother, Jay, 17, will play for PBA next season ... Earliest baseball memory is the Seattle Mariners winning the American League Divisional Series on Joey Cora's double that drove in Ken Griffey Jr.

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