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Kris Johnson -2014

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#1 tmerrickkeller

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 11:05 AM

2014 is Kris Johnson's first in the Minnesota Twins organization. He will begin the season as part of a potent Red Wings starting rotation in AAA. The 6'4" lefty starter came to the Twins as part of the Justin Morneau deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but even that is misleading.

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.


#2 tmerrickkeller

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 12:00 PM

sorry, all - I thought I was just editing a sentence, and this ended up being posted twice. I'm new at this. Anyone tell me how to remove one of these so there's only one left? Thanks.

#3 tmerrickkeller

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 08:32 PM

Hoping that my man Kris would have his first start of the season today, but rain in New York changed all that. I will post his starts and achievements throughout the year, and hope to make contact with my adopted Twin son. But this week, I'm off to my 30th college reunion in Durham, North Carolina (Go Duke!) with my lovely wife. I just want to wish the best to Kris this year and look forward to watching his season unfold.

#4 tmerrickkeller

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 10:56 PM

Kris Johnson made his 4th start of the season for the Rochester Red Wings tonight, and had another fine outing. Kris gave up a single unearned run on 3 hits in 6 solid innings at Pawtucket (his former team from 2009-2011).

On the season, the left-hander, obtained over the winter in a swap for Duke Welker, who was part of the original return for Justin Morneau (doesn't it all sound like horse breeding sometimes, "Johnson, from Morneau, out of Welker") has started four games and sits at 2-2 on the year. He's gone 5, 5, 6, and 6 innings, giving up a total of 18 hits, 20 Ks (6 tonight), and 8 walks (4 tonight) in those 22 frames, for a splendid 1.18 WHiP.

Johnson has also kept the ball in the ballpark thus far, and in the small sample size of the early season, has been tougher on righties than lefties. Overall, opponents are hitting a paltry .217 against the 6-4 Wichita State product.

Johnson's start completes a terrific recent run through the Red Wings' rotation (May, Meyer, Diamond, and Darnell, in addition to Kris Johnson). In the last five games, starters have tossed 29.2 innings while giving up only 4 earned runs and claiming three wins. Tomorrow's game features Trevor May against top prospect Matt Barnes, who will be making his season debut for the Paw Sox, before the Wings head South to take on Charlotte starting Saturday.

#5 tmerrickkeller

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 10:40 PM

Big news today, as Tuesday's rainout forced a scheduled double-header for Thursday, May 1 between the Twins and Dodgers. Kris Johnson was selected to be the 26th-man-for-a-day and will start the late tilt for the local nine.

This is a very exciting day for Kris, off to a good start in AAA and who last tasted the big leagues for Pittsburgh in late August/early September, 2013.

At this point, the twinbill will feature the Twins' Mike Pelfrey squaring off against the Dodgers' Dan Haren in the early game; Kris Johnson will face Josh Beckett for the defending National League West champs in the 6:10 local time nightcap.

It will be the first game started by a left-handed pitcher for the club this season. Johnson was selected from a strong Red Wings rotation, including fellow port-siders Logan Darnell and Scott Diamond. (Darnell started Sunday, and fan favorite Alex Meyer pitched Monday). Other possibilities for that spot start included Trevor May, and current long reliever Sam Deduno.

#6 tmerrickkeller

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 09:13 PM

Kris has, rather quietly, worked his way back into the conversation about potential Twins rotation prospects. Many on this site expressed concern over his leisurely pace in his single big-league start this season, but his most recent effort, a 2-hit, 1-walk, 7-inning complete game on Sunday, July 6, was completed in a tidy 1:40. It should be remembered, too, that although he gave up 4 hits and (gulp!) 6 walks in his 4 1/3 innings on May 1 against the Dodgers, he did not allow an earned run.

His most recent gem came at a good time for an overworked bullpen for the Red Wings. Kris is now 8-4 on the season in 16 starts, giving up 78 hits and 38 walks, to go along with 83 strikeouts in 98.1 innings. That's averaging over 6 innings per outing.

While no one wants to see a repeat of the past few seasons, where AAA pitchers were forced to fill out a depleted starting corps, Kris remains a viable, left-hand option should injuries or continued struggles force consideration of change in the rotation. He's had 7 quality starts in his last 10 outings. See his stat line here: http://www.milb.com/..._pbp&pid=453241

#7 drock2190

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 10:54 PM

I bet he gets the rotation spot that was Nolaco's.

#8 stringer bell

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Posted 09 July 2014 - 08:49 AM

It would fit to have him start in Denver on Friday. He's 29. It is probably time for him (and Pino) to see if they can consistently get major league hitters out.