Texas junior outfielder Ben Johnson was drafted in the 11th round as the 339th overall pick to the Kansas City Royals on the third day of the 2015 MLB draft.
In a news conference Monday, Johnson said he got an offer in the fourth round but turned it down because it was not a good fit for him.
“In the end I wanted to be a Kansas City Royal the entire time, and, however I could get there, I wanted to make that happen,” he said. “I feel like my strengths and my game really fit their system well, and, in the end, that’s the team that I wanted to go to, and it worked out.”
Johnson started 56 games for Texas this past season. He lead the team in stolen bases with 16; a number which would rank him fifth in the Big 12.
Johnson said he thinks his transition from Texas to the Royals will go smoothly because of the similarities in their playing style.
“They love to run and love to steal bases,” Johnson said. “In the outfield, they said they’re going to play me [at] centerfield, and they kind of like me as a lead-off two guy, and that’s what I hit here. My game here could translate nicely over to them.”
Johnson and teammate infielder C.J Hinojosa are both forgoing their senior year at Texas to pursue their professional baseball careers. Johnson said leaving Texas a year early was not an easy decision.
“It’s really tough for me, this has been a dream come true to play here, especially living in Austin my whole life and going to Westwood, which is just right down the road,” Johnson said. “It’s one of those things where [you’ve] got to do what’s best for your career, and I’m ready to get my professional career started.”
As a Longhorn this past season, Johnson led the team with a batting average of .332, a slugging percentage of .498 and had five home runs. Aside from bettering his baseball skills, Johnson said being under the pressure of playing for Texas has helped prepare him to join the MLB.
“Every single game feels like Game 7 of the World Series playing here with Coach Garrido, and you just know that every game is a do-or-die situation, and I think that’ll help me going into my professional career,” Johnson said.
The details of Johnson's salary were still being worked out, but he said he doesn’t regret potentially losing out on more money by turning down the earlier round offer.
“It’s more about the opportunity than money,” Johnson said. “I’ve always been told to go to the place where you feel like you’re getting the best opportunity to better yourself as a player, and, in the end, I felt like the Kansas City Royals were the best fit for me, and the money will come later, hopefully.”
Johnson said he has had his sights on the minors, but is hoping to make it to the major leagues.
“Ever since being a little kid, you dream of this opportunity, and it doesn’t matter where you’re playing, you’re just playing the game you love,” Johnson said. “It’s bittersweet to know that that dream has come true, but I still have a long ways to go in order to reach the ultimate goal, which is to make it to the major leagues.”