The initial deal between Minnesota and Pittsburgh sent Morneau to the Bucs in exchange for outfielder Alex Presley (since released and claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros) and a PTBNL. That PTBNL ended up being reliever Duke Welker, but the Twins sent Welker back to the Pirates for Kris Johnson on November 19, 2013.
Kris Johnson is a 29-year-old, born in West Covina, California. He'll turn 30 after the season, so he's hitting the upper limits in age for a minor-league starter to make the transition to the majors. He attended Wichita State and was a 1st-round pick by the Boston Red Sox following his sophomore season for the Shockers.
He rose and fell in the Sox minor leagues, from his draft year of 2006 until his release following the 2010 season, including limited time in the big leagues in 2008 and 2009. Kris spent 2011 with the Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association in independent baseball, but was picked up by the Pirates organization and ascended quickly to AAA Indianapolis for the Bucs by 2013.
That 2013 campaign was very successful, including selection as a mid-season all-star for Indy. Johnson posted a 10-3 record as a starter, and led the International League with a 2.16 ERA in those starts, ending 4th in the league in WHiP. That led to an August call-up in the midst of Pittsburgh's playoff run. Johnson was returned to AAA before season's end.
Johnson sports a fastball in the low 90s, and while he has not been overwhelming (career 6.2 K/9 in 9 minor-league seasons), he has been steady.
Kris made 4 appearances for the Bucs in 2013, including one start. His 2013 debut was a solid 6 innings of relief in which he gave up 2 runs on 5 hits while striking out 5. He was tagged in his lone start for Pittsburgh in 2013 by the Cards, just completing 2 innings with 5 runs on 7 hits.
Johnson is a rock-solid mid-rotation lefty, who could easily make the transition back to the big club, and gives the Twins additional quality depth in their starting rotation that they haven't enjoyed in several seasons. He joins a solid Rochester rotation alongside Trevor May, Alex Meyer, Scott Diamond, and Logan Darnell. Unlike the big league club, Diamond, Darnell, and Kris Johnson are left-handed, and it will be interesting to see which of those three rises to become the top left-handed starting prospect in the system.
Edited by tmerrickkeller, 30 April 2014 - 09:31 PM.