Michael Johnson looks towards San Diego

Michael Johnson ready to bloom

<u><b>LAKE ELSINORE</b></u> -- Michael Johnson has shown why he is one of the top prospects in the Padres organization this year by leading the Storm with six home runs including three in one game. At 6-3, 215 pounds, Johnson has the make up to succeed Phil Nevin as the Padres first baseman in years to come.

After a first inning double on Friday night, Michael Johnson helped launch the Storm past the San Jose Giants 5-3 in front of a season high crowd of 7,109. Johnson thought that playing in front of the big crowd brought some more excitement to the game.

"It was very exciting. Any time you play in front of that many people, and they were into the game and loud, it was fun. That is what makes this fun."

Michael went to Clemson with current Padre SS Khalil Greene and the two seemed to form a strong relationship. He felt they became good friends because they came from the same background and could really relate to each other.

"We both got along great. We became closer friends the longer we went to school together. When we both got to Clemson we were both real quiet. I think we both kind of understood each other in ways others couldn't. We became closer friends as the years progressed; especially that last year."

Jumping from college baseball to professional baseball is something Johnson is beginning to experience.

"(Southern California) is different from the east coast which is where I am from. I enjoy being out here and I enjoy the weather a lot. The biggest difference in professional ball is having to come out every single day and perform at your best. In college you are playing four or five games a week with a required game off. It is a little less of a grind."

Johnson has had to adjust to new position by playing first base, and just like Phil Nevin he has had to work hard to get comfortable. Last year Johnson had some trouble at first but believes that he has made giant strides in his defense.

"It's coming along. I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable now than I did last season where I made way too many errors. I am trying to clean that up by working hard everyday and trying to improve."

As Johnson's defense continues to improve, his bat is what is getting all the attention. Only one home run shy of the league lead, Johnson says his approach is to stay with his swing every time up at the plate.

"I just try to keep the same approach each at bat and look to the middle of the field. I'm looking for a good pitch and then try to put a good swing on it."

Storm Notes: Winning pitcher Gabe Ribas continued his dominance by improving to 2-2 with a 2.05 ERA Friday night. The Storm set a season high in attendance by bringing in 7,109 fans. Since then they lost Saturday and set season highs in hits and runs scored on Sunday in a win. They are now 12-11, third in the South Division.

Matt Johnson can be reached at johnson@sandiegosports.net

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