The Braves have promoted right-handed pitcher Jonathan Johnson to Triple-A Richmond after signing him a few weeks ago to a minor league contract.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old Johnson has been out of baseball when he retired after the 2003 season. He pitched in 42 big league games from 1998-2003 with Texas, San Diego, and Houston.
Originally drafted by the Rangers in the first round (seventh overall) of the 1995 draft out of Florida State, Johnson made his big league debut in 1998 starting one game for Texas. Then he battled shoulder tendonitis in 1999 and again pitched in only one game for the Rangers.
He became a reliever in 2000 and pitched in 15 games for Texas. He was 1-1 with a 6.21 ERA. Johnson had 19 walks and 23 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched. Then in April of 2001 Johnson had five big league appearances with the Rangers before being traded to Arizona. He spent the remainder of that season in Triple-A.
Johnson was then released by the Diamondbacks organization in June of 2002 and signed by the Padres. He then pitched in 16 games for San Diego, posting a 4.11 ERA and striking out 21 in 15.1 innings of work.
The right-hander then signed with the Astros before the 2003 season. He pitched in four games with Houston and made three starts (0-1, 5.87, 20 hits in 15.1 innings, 15 walks, and 7 strikeouts).
Johnson then retired and returned to his home in Irmo, South Carolina. He recently contacted the Braves asking for a tryout and performed well. The Braves have had him in Extended Spring Training in Orlando. He's reportedly been throwing his fastball in the 90-93 mph range, with a decent curve and changeup.
The Braves believe the LaGrange, Georgia native could be an option for the Atlanta bullpen later this summer. He'll start out in the Richmond bullpen, but when Chuck James leaves in a few weeks, chances are Johnson will be moved into the Richmond rotation to get additional innings.
Along with Johnson, the Braves have brought in Ricardo Rodriguez, Wayne Franklin, and Tyler Yates since the start of the season as potential bullpen options. All four have big league time. Yates was called up today and will be in Atlanta's bullpen tonight.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. Email Bill at email@example.com.
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