Toronto Blue Jays News

Toronto Blue Jays: Players that the club lost for nothing

Toronto Blue Jays' coach Buck Martinez (L) relieves pitcher Chris Carpenter during fifth inning of play against the Seattle Mariners in Toronto, Canada, 12 May, 2001. The Mariners beat the Jays 11-7. AFP PHOTO/Aaron HARRIS (Photo by AARON HARRIS / AFP) (Photo by AARON HARRIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Toronto Blue Jays' coach Buck Martinez (L) relieves pitcher Chris Carpenter during fifth inning of play against the Seattle Mariners in Toronto, Canada, 12 May, 2001. The Mariners beat the Jays 11-7. AFP PHOTO/Aaron HARRIS (Photo by AARON HARRIS / AFP) (Photo by AARON HARRIS/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Toronto center fielder Reed Johnson gets a high five from third base coach Brian Butterfield after his first inning home run against Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on June 2, 2006. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Toronto center fielder Reed Johnson gets a high five from third base coach Brian Butterfield after his first inning home run against Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on June 2, 2006. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images) /

Reed Johnson

When you find a major league player outside of the top 10 rounds, you know your scouts are doing their job.  When you find a leadoff hitter in the 17th round, the scout that found him needs to be promoted.  The Blue Jays selected Reed Johnson deep in the 1999 MLB Amateur Draft out of California State University.  Johnson had a slow rise to the major leagues but he kept pushing his way through each door and at the age of 26-years old made his Blue Jays debut in 2003.

Johnson started 2003 with Triple-A Syracuse and after posting a slash line of .327/.369/.446 with the Sky Chiefs he earned a promotion to the Blue Jays.  Johnson had a quick cup of coffee with the club which included one start where he went 1 for 2 with a pair of hit-by-pitches but was demoted before getting another plate appearance.  Johnson would be recalled as the club’s fourth outfielder on May 16 and hit 6 for 13(.462) with four extra-base hits over the next week and a half, which led to him becoming an everyday player for the remainder of his Blue Jays career.

Johnson was the primary lead-off hitter over the next few seasons and from 2003-2006 posted a .288/.348/.423 slash line that included 153 extra-base hits in 1,808 at-bats.  Unfortunately, in 2007 Johnson would miss almost three months after having surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back in April.  The injury caused his numbers to drop and he finished the year with a batting average 48 points lower than the previous four seasons.

Going into the 2008 Spring Training, the Blue Jays decided to bring back Shannon Stewart who had been one of the best hitters in the franchise a decade earlier, as well as bringing in Canadian Matt Stairs.  The crowded outfield led to the Blue Jays releasing Johnson in favour of the two veterans.  Stewart would get into just 52 games, hitting just .240 and along with the emergence of Adam Lind, was released in mid-August.  Stairs would take on the role of Designated Hitter.

Johnson would sign on days later with the Chicago Cubs and posted a slash line of .303/.358/.420 on the season hitting all over the order but found his success at the bottom of the line-up.  Johnson would play parts of eight more seasons bouncing around the National League and after he left the Blue Jays, the righty batter played in another 710 games, posting a slash line of .277/.32/.399 and was always known as a player that would do anything to get on base or track down a ball.

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