Born: August 14, 1988
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 170
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 25th Round, 768th Overall, 2011 (Rockies)
How Acquired: Minor league free agent
College: University of North Carolina
Agent: N/A


Johnson was a very successful pitcher at North Carolina, but didn’t go high in the draft as his stuff wasn’t considered above ordinary.  He threw mostly in the upper-80s in college, reaching 92, with a curve and change.  As a pro, he’s had command issues and high walk totals, probably contributing to his release after three years with the Rockies.  He went to independent ball and improved his velocity a little, to 90-94 according to Baseball America, and also made progress with his command.  The Pirates purchased his contract from the Sioux City Explorers.

R+:  0-4-0, 5.35 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 33.2 IP, 4.5 BB/9, 7.5 K/9

For a pitcher from a major college program, Johnson didn’t have a good debut in advanced rookie ball.  He made six starts and four relief appearances.  He struggled with his control and also got hit fairly hard.

R+:  1-2-0, 4.46 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 40.1 IP, 4.5 BB/9, 11.8 K/9

The Rockies sent Johnson back to the Pioneer League, where he pitched mainly in relief.  He struck out a lot of hitters, but otherwise wasn’t much more effective.

A:  3-3-0, 2.83 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 28.2 IP, 5.3 BB/9, 11.6 K/9
A+:  1-1-0, 4.41 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 3.9 BB/9, 12.7 K/9

Johnson split his season between low A and high A, pitching strictly in relief.  He was hard to hit, with very high K rates and an opponents’ average of just .210.  He continued to have control problems, although that issue improved after he was promoted.

IND:  9-7-0, 4.59 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 111.2 IP, 5.2 BB/9, 8.5 K/9

The Rockies released Johnson at the end of spring training and he caught on with the Sioux City Explorers of the American Association.  He continued to be plagued by control issues, pitching mainly as a starter.

IND:  15-1-0, 2.08 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 134.0 IP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.9 K/9

Johnson returned to Sioux City and had a big season as he finally seemed to master the strike zone.  He allowed only 94 hits in 134 innings.  As a result, BA rated him the fifth best prospect in independent ball.  The Pirates purchased his contract after the season.

It’s not clear whether the Pirates consider Johnson a prospect or minor league depth.  They do have a need for starters at Altoona, which seems his most likely destination.

2016: Minor league contract
Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2011
MLB Debut:
MiLB FA Eligible: 2017
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
June 8, 2011: Drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 25th round, 768th overall pick; signed on June 27.
March 27, 2014: Released by the Colorado Rockies.
November 19, 2015: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the independent Sioux City Explorers.