Kris Johnson is surely not a highly touted pitching prospect, with just four major league appearances under his belt at age 29. But a 2.86 ERA through his first four starts for Triple-A Rochester has led to the Minnesota Twins calling him up, and Johnson will make his second major league start in the nightcap of Thursday’s double header against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Johnson was drafted in the first round (40th overall) by the Boston Red Sox in 2006, but he wound up with the Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association in 2011 before landing with the Pittsburgh Pirates before the 2012 season. Johnson finally made his major league debut in August of 2013, and he posted a 6.10 ERA in four appearances (one start) for the Pirates last season. The Twins, in search of pitching depth at all levels of the organization, acquired Johnson from the Pirates last November in exchange for pitcher Duke Welker.
Johnson will be Minnesota’s 26th man for Thursday’s double header, and he’ll go back to Triple-A after his start barring something out of the ordinary between now and then. But if he pitches well against a Dodgers’ lineup that ranks in the top half of the National League in multiple categories entering Wednesday’s action, along with being filled with notable names, Johnson could put himself in the mix to be considered when the Twins need a starter down the road.
The Twins have fairly significant money committed to a few veterans in their starting rotation, which may drive some of their decision making for better or worse. It would be nice to see Mike Pelfrey or Kevin Correia pitch well enough to get interest from contending teams as July’s trade deadline approaches, but if that doesn’t happen Johnson may not pitch for the Twins again until rosters expand in September. Then I think he may get a legitimate chance to earn a spot on the 2015 Opening Day roster next spring.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.