As the Cubs have maneuvered the 40-man roster to accommodate call-ups and late-season additions, there were always going to be some interesting fringe players who were lost in the process. I didn’t expect Pierce Johnson to be among them already, but I also concede the last couple years have not gone as hoped.
Today, per multiple reports, the San Francisco Giants claimed Johnson, 26, off of waivers from the Cubs, who designated him for assignment last week to clear a spot for Jen-Ho Tseng to come up and make a start. Tseng – and others – were going to have to be added to the 40-man roster by late November to avoid the Rule 5 Draft anyway, so it’s possible Johnson would have been waived later this year in any case.
Still, it’s a bummer to see Johnson, a compensatory first round pick in 2012 – and the first pitcher drafted by this front office – flame out with the organization before getting a real look in the big leagues. Johnson’s one inning of relief against the Brewers back in May in that weird weather game will stand as his only inning with the big league team.
On the year at AAA, as a reliever, Johnson posted a 4.31 ERA and 3.43 FIP over 54.1 innings. He struck out 31.6% of the batters he faced, and walked 11.5%. The talent and potential are there (hence why he didn’t make it very far up the waiver ladder), but the command and health have to be there, too. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him eventually get a real look in some team’s bullpen as soon as next year, though he might have to ride the DFA Roller Coaster this offseason as teams try to stash him.