July 11, 2015 at 5:30 PM
As first reported by Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, the Boston Red Sox have purchased the contract of left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson and recalled him from the Pawtucket Red Sox. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported that Clay Buchholz will head to the disabled list to make room on the active roster, and the team announced right-hander Dalier Hinojosa was designated for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster. Manager John Farrell confirmed that Johnson will be available out of the bullpen in the near-term, and it looks likely that he will get the first shot at Buchholz's spot in the rotation after the All-Star break.
Johnson, a first-round pick in the 2012 draft, positioned himself for a call-up with his performance for the PawSox in the first half of the season. In 16 starts, he went 8-6, working 85 2/3 innings and posting a 2.73 ERA. He allowed just 68 hits and 26 walks while striking out 81.
Johnson broke out last season with a performance that earned him SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Year honors, as well as the Red Sox's organizational Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. After a short five-game stint in Salem, he moved up to Portland and went 10-2 with a 1.75 ERA in 20 starts for the Sea Dogs, allowing 78 hits and 32 walks in 112 innings while striking out 99. The stellar season represented a comeback for the former University of Florida Gator, as he was solid but dealt with injuries in 2013 after spending the prior offseason recovering from being hit in the face with a line drive while pitching for the Lowell Spinners in the fourth start of his professional career.
Johnson throws four pitches that grade out as major league average or better—a fastball, curveball, changeup, and a pitch that he can throw as more of a slider or a cutter depending on the game situation and point in the count. With advanced pitchability and a high baseball acumen, along with good command, he projects as a near-surefire major league starting pitcher, although his lack of a true plus pitch limits his ceiling, and he is seen as unlikely to be more than a mid-rotation starter at best.
Johnson had been slated to start for Pawtucket on Saturday. Keith Couch will instead start.
Photo credit: Brian Johnson by Kelly O'Connor