Blue Jays sign reclamation project Kyle Johnson to minor league contract

Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins
Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

The Toronto Blue Jays have signed right-handed pitcher Kyle Johnson to a minor league contract, per his transaction log. It is unlikely that he will be a part of big league Spring Training.

Johnson, 29, is an outfielder-turned-pitcher and is going to be a big time project for the Jays. Last year, he made appearances in both Double-A and Triple-A as a member of the Chicago Cubs organization.

Johnson initially broke into the league as a member of the New York Yankees organization back in 2016. In 15 innings spread across 13 outings, he posted a dazzling 1.20 ERA despite the fact that he displayed some concerning control issues.

He did not allow a single home run but walked 11 batters while striking out 13.

After missing the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injuries, Johnson re-emerged in 2018, this time making only 12 appearances split between Rookie Ball and Low-A. This time around, he had a 2.42 ERA in 22 innings, walking only seven while striking out 20.

The Yankees organization had evidently seen enough of Johnson, as they released him at the conclusion of the 2018 season.

In 2020, Johnson played for the Tully Monsters of the Independent League, making 13 appearances and posting a 1.15 ERA. His control issues crept back up once again as he walked nine batters and struck out 14 in 15+ innings.

2021 once again saw him change hands and join two new teams. He made a combined 36 appearances split between the Windy City ThunderBolts of the Frontier League and later Indy ball's Lancaster Barnstormers. He walked the same amount of batters that he struck out and posted a combined 4.57 ERA.

The Chicago Cubs signed him to a minor league contract heading into the 2022 season. Johnson had by far the worst performance of his professional career, posting a ghastly 7.43 ERA in 34 games and 49+ innings. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but his control issues came back to haunt him once again and were a huge contributor in his awful numbers.

One year was all the Cubs needed to see of him, as they released him heading into this past offseason. Now, he will join a Blue Jays organization who has done a lot of work to improve its pitching depth, signing names like Jay Jackson, Casey Lawrence, Drew Hutchison and Paul Fry to name a few.

Admittedly, it's a bit of a curious case as to why the Jays were interested in Johnson. Perhaps there was something in his scouting reports that suggested there was an easy fix to some of his issues (apparently he has some velocity but clearly he cannot control it). At 29-years-old, it's unlikely we'll see his name anywhere near the big leagues anytime soon.

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