Last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates scouts got a look at a lefty in the Boston Red Sox farm system. This young man isn’t exactly the youngest in the minor leagues. At the age of 27 years, this man had almost 800 starts in a minor league jersey. His numbers haven’t been very good at any stage for any stretch of time, and certainly, he has never been seen as major league material.
Why then, would Kris Johnson be ready this spring to finally make his first major league team? Because when he shifted gears away from the Red Sox organization, things began to change. Suddenly, a few good starts were put together and by the time he made his way all the way to the Pirates farm system, he was making scouts punch each other in the shoulder and ask each other who this kid was. His control is superb now, and his ERA suddenly found its way well below four.
Johnson’s numbers in the Dominican Republic Winter League were ridiculous. He didn’t give up one single home run – not one! His ERA was 0.91 over the course of the season, and he simply dominated hitters. These are major league quality hitters as well, and he displayed quite the ability to dominate them. Considering his sudden shift in success and the fact that he is a coveted lefty, Johnson will find his way onto a starting staff this season somewhere. Pirates fans should hope it is with them.