Former First-Rounder Kris Johnson Signed by Pittsburgh Pirates


Left-hander Kris Johnson

was a first round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2006.   The video of Johnson getting rocked is from 2010.

He was released this May by the Sox after sucking horribly and toiling in their minor league system for five years.

It looks like Aaron Thompson, will join Steve Pearce and Ryan Doumit in Minnesota, so we can see the Pirates adding a few of these minor deals this offseason with the hope of working some magic.  I’ve read a few things about Johnson and it appears that his curve has never returned to what it was before he had Tommy John surgery in 2005.

It’s strange that the Sox would give up on Johnson without trying to determine if he could be successful from working in the bullpen extensively.  But shit, those numbers are frightening and every organization has their Chad Hermanson.

If they can rebuild his confidence, it will be interesting to see if the Pirates work him as a starter or a reliever.

Sox Prospects had this to say about him:

"Throws three pitches well: a 90-94 mph fastball, a mid-70s hard curveball, and avery good 83-84 mph changeup. Uses his fastball and his change as out pitches.Average control, not a dominant strikeout pitcher. Smooth delivery withimproving command. Really needs to work on consistency, especially when workingout of jams. Solid groundball ratio hovering around 50%. Fares slightly betteragainst lefties. Historically performs well in the first two innings, but overhis career he has shown some fall-off come the third inning, potentially makinghim a candidate for the bullpen long-term. However, with improving gamepreparation in 2008, he demonstrated the ability to shut down a batting orderseveral times through. He’s also fared well against advanced hitting prospects.After a few decent starts in Pawtucket to open 2009, he endured a roughadjustment to Triple-A, leading to a demotion back to Portland, where hecontinued to struggle. Underwent TJ surgery in 2005, from which he returned tothe mound faster than expected, but his curve still lacks the same bite."

12 Questions with Johnson from Sox Prospects details a great deal about his background and struggles while in the Sox system.  He certainly seemed like he was going to be a factor for the Red Sox when he was invited to the major league camp in 2009 after some nice numbers in AA Portland.

But it never all came together for the Wichita State southpaw while he was in Pawtucket, he had just awful numbers.  In 2010, there was a stretch when it looked like Johnson was figuring it all out and had a nice stretch of successful starts, but that didn’t last.

Draft picks that go as high as Johnson did, are expected to do a little more than flounder around the minors for years on end.

I like this pickup even if he never throws a pitch in a minor league game.  You see, from a strictly ‘don’t blow the golden opportunity’ standpoint, having Johnson around the Pirates minor leagues might not be a bad idea.  It might help players like Stetson Allie, Jameson Taillon, and Gerrit Cole remember that a job in Pittsburgh takes work.

It doesn’t matter if you were a first round supplemental pick or an undrafted free agent.  The road to the bigs takes work.

An incredible amount of work, especially mentally.