Pierce Johnson Claimed Off Waivers By Giants

Once one of the most promising pitchers in the Cubs organization, Pierce Johnson never quite lived up to the hype in parts of six minor league seasons. His primary struggle was with his health, as nagging injuries forced him to miss time here and there. After bouncing back and forth between the rotation and pen, Johnson was eventually shifted to a full-time relief role with AAA Iowa in late July of 2016.

Though he put up a cumulative 3.24 minor league ERA and racked up 458 strikeouts in 444.1 innings, Johnson walked 205 batters and had a 1.31 WHIP. That’s not really indicative of an ability to consistently get MLB hitters out, especially not when you see that he had a 1.55 WHIP over 117.1 AAA innings.

Though it’s too small a sample to matter, we saw this precursor of production borne out in his Cubs debut on May 19. Johnson faced seven batters over an inning of work, giving up two runs on two hits and one walk while striking out two. That was his only big league appearance, as he headed right back down to Iowa to finish the season.

The Cubs were willing to remove Johnson from the 40-man roster in order to make room for Jen-Ho Tseng, which tells you that they didn’t really see much to make them think a turnaround was in the offing. There’s obviously talent there, but now it’s the Giants who will have to hope Johnson lives up to it. They claimed him off waivers Wednesday with the possibility that he’ll turn into a nice buy-low prospect.

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