Cubs Minor League Daily: Checking In On Pierce Johnson

Pierce Johnson briefly made it to the majors in 2017, but for the most this season has not been what we were hoping for. On the good side, pitching as a full time reliever he has appeared in 39 games for Iowa. For a guy with a history of injury problems, that’s not bad at all.

On the bad side, not all of those 39 games were very good. Walks have continued to plague Johnson, and for a time opposing batters were hitting better than .360 off him. That is an ugly combo, and it led to an ugly first half ERA of 5.52.

Johnson has been better in the second half, though. In July (9 game, 10.1 IP) he had an ERA of 3.48, 15 strikeouts, 5 walks, and an opponents batting average of just .147. That average has ticked up to .225 in August, but the rest of his numbers for this month (6 games, 11 IP, 14 K, 4 BB, 3.27 ERA) are pretty good.

He is on the 40-man roster, so I think we’ll possibly see him called up in September. And since he has been pitching better lately, Johnson might pick up four or five innings before the end of the month. I suspect the Cubs will mainly use him in low leverage innings, at least for now, but I would not rule out Johnson morphing into a high leverage kind of guy down the road. If he can keep improving his control, his stuff could play nicely in a Major League bullpen.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs

Iowa had the day off.

Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Montgomery 8, Tennessee 7
The Smokies gave up five runs in the final two innings, and it cost them the game.

  • Chris Nunn: 5 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 4 BB, 4 K (If you missed the Cubs signing Nunn.)
  • David Bote: 2 for 6, 2 HR
  • Jason Vosler: 2 for 3, 2 HR
  • Osvaldo Martinez: 1 for 4, HR
  • Andrew Ely: 2 for 3, 2B
  • Trey Martin: 1 for 4, 2B
  • High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
    Down East 2, Myrtle Beach 0
    For this game the wind was howling in at 21 MPH.

  • Kyle Miller: 4.1 IP, 2 R, 8 H, 2 K
  • Dave Berg: 2.2 IP, 4 K
  • Marc Huberman: 2 IP, 3 H
  • Robert Garcia: 1 for 3, 2B, BB
  • P.J. Higgins: 1 for 2, 2 BB
  • Adonis Paula: 2 for 4
  • Low A: South Bend Cubs
    South Bend 2, West Michigan 1
    The Cubs picked up their 70th win.

  • Manuel Rondon: 5 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 K
  • Jhon Romero: 3 IP, 1 BB, 4 K
  • Austin Upshaw: 1 for 4, 2B
  • Joe Martarano: 3 for 3, 2B
  • Short Season A: Eugene Emeralds
    Salem-Keizer 4, Eugene 3
    Emerald’ pitching tossed eight strait scoreless innings after the first.

  • Brendon Little: 0.2 IP 4 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 K
  • Elvis Diaz: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K
  • Erich Uelmen: 3 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 2 K
  • Jake Steffens: 1 IP and a line of zeroes.
  • Jhonny Bethencourt: 1 for 4, 3B
  • Michael Cruz: 1 for 3, 2B, BB
  • Chris Singleton: 2 for 4, 2 SB
  • Rookie: AZL Cubs
    Cubs 3, Padres 2
    Cubs got their runs thanks to some Padre errors.

  • Stephen Ridings: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 2 K
  • Eury Ramos: 2.1 IP, 1 K
  • Ivan Medina: 1.1 IP, 1 BB, 2 K
  • Jonathan Sierra: 2 for 4, 2B, 3B
  • Nelson Velazquez: 1 for 3, 2B, SB
  • Luis Hidalgo: 1 for 4, HR
  • Other Notes

  • The Smokies had no shortage of long balls yesterday. They hit five home runs (including two each by Bote and Vosler) and a pair of doubles. They also walked six times and only struck out five times. All in all, the offense played very well.
  • Former Boise State football player Joe Martarano got off to a slow start in South Bend, but lately has been playing much better. His August line (small sample size) is up to .258/.303/.419 over nine games. He has some of the best power in the system; it remains to be seen if he’ll make enough consistent contact to leverage that power.
  • Another of the “Smokies Rewind” video series, a series that goes back to the Double A highlights of some current Chicago Cubs before they were Chicago Cubs, is up. Admittedly, Ian Happ isn’t much of a rewind; he didn’t leave Tennessee all that long ago. Still, it’s fun:
  • written by

    Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @ltblaize.

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