Johnson has high potential on and off the field

White Sox prospect hopes to become GM after his playing career is done

Johnson has high potential on and off the field

CHICAGO -- Micah Johnson's Major League career hasn't even officially begun, but the 24-year-old already has a strong idea as to what he wants to do when the playing portion is complete.

Johnson, the No. 4 White Sox prospect per MLB.com who will compete for the starting second-baseman slot with No. 10 prospect Carlos Sanchez, has his sights set on becoming a general manager. That path follows a planned stopover at law school.

"Coaching and being a manager is cool, but every day is a new challenge when you are a general manager," Johnson said. "Every day is a new puzzle, putting together pieces to help a team win.

"When you do win, it's a huge reward. The challenge of it, everything that goes into it, it's something different every day."

This current offseason has featured Johnson working with a hitting coach in Florida to refine his swing and approach, as well as returning to Olympic lifting with power cleans and dead lifts. He describes fellow speedsters such as Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon as "skinny fast," but sitting around 215 pounds, the man who swiped 84 bases over three Minor League stops in 2013 still ran a 4.43 40-yard dash the other day.

"I'm like running-back size. They are defensive-back size," Johnson said. "I'm getting stronger and getting faster."

School work got mixed in with baseball work for Johnson over the past few months, as he took classes online in Anatomy, Constitutional Law, English and Communications through Indiana University. The back-to-school program began when Johnson's '14 season was shut down in late August by a left hamstring injury that is now 100 percent.

With just 13 more credits, the ninth-round pick out of Indiana in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft will graduate with degrees in General Studies and Spanish, and a minor in Labor Studies. That fluency in Spanish has put Johnson in the unofficial translator role at some lower levels of the Minors and should help him communicate with shortstop Alexei Ramirez if he wins the second-base job with the White Sox.

As for anticipated grades for the classes he finished in mid-December, Johnson said that he started strong but then kind of fizzled. He blamed that finish on the exciting moves made by general manager Rick Hahn, the man Johnson could replace somewhere around 2035.

"All of those moves distracted me, and I just wanted to work," said Johnson with a laugh. "I was up late watching MLB Network."

Hahn appreciates the front-office interest from Johnson. He hopes that change is well down the line for the explosive young player.

"We feel he has a pretty bright on-the-field future first," said a smiling Hahn of the left-handed-hitting Johnson. "There are certain players that you come across during their playing careers -- [White Sox manager] Robin [Ventura] was one of them -- that everyone around them goes, 'This guy is going to do something in the game.'

"You don't necessarily know if it's going to be manager or front office or announcer or something like that. But Micah is one of those guys who has that high off-the-field potential."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.