Acquired by the Blue Jays back at the 2019 trade deadline, right-hander Kyle Johnston has been quietly impressing since making the transition to being a full-time reliever.
While he still made nine starts last year, Johnston was impressive with both New Hampshire and Buffalo, owning a collective 1.57 ERA through 35 outings. Through 69.0 innings, the former Washington Nationals prospect amassed a 1.159 WHIP and 55 strikeouts compared to 29 walks, allowing only 12 earned runs on the season.
So far this season, the bullpen down in AAA for the Toronto Blue Jays owns a collective 2.86 ERA and has been impressive early on this year.
One positive note about the lockout this past offseason is that there was no Rule 5 Draft for eligible players of the Major League portion, as I truly believe that Johnston would have been picked up by another team since he was left off the Jays’ 40-man roster.
So far this year, the Texas product is currently tied with Matt Gage at 14 appearances on the season for the Bisons and has allowed just four earned runs through 17.2 outings. Similar to Gage and Hernandez, Johnston has been used primarily at the end of the game and pitching in high-leverage situations, which has earned him three saves on the year.
If he continues to pitch well and can bring the walks down from his current 4.1 BB/9, the Jays may have another solid bullpen arm down in Buffalo if the need arises.