JOHNSON, SMITH IN POSITION FOR MAJOR LEAGUE CALLS

JOHNSON, SMITH IN POSITION FOR MAJOR LEAGUE CALLS

Independent Baseball Insider By Bob Wirz

Vol. 12, No. 12, May 22, 2014

Chris Martin was the most recent Independent Baseball product to get a break-through promotion to the major leagues about four weeks ago, and it seems to these eyes that two other American Association products, left-handers Kris Johnson (pictured) and Greg Smith, could make the jump any day now.

Johnson got a one-day call to start in a doubleheader for Minnesota recently (4.1 scoreless innings although he walked six), but the 29-year-old went back to Triple-A Rochester, NY and has continued to put up great numbers.  The 2011 starter at Kansas City, KS has allowed only two earned runs in his last four starts, giving him a 3-2, 2.08 log for the International League season.  He has allowed only 34 hits in 39 innings while striking out 40, and might give the Twins another solid rotation guy if they can give him two or three starts to allow the nerves to settle down.

While his numbers are not quite as great, Smith has just been honored as International League Pitcher of the Week, and the Philadelphia Triple-A hurler (Lehigh Valley,  Allentown, PA) has cut his walks down to 13 in 48.1 innings as he has built a 4-1, 3.72 record.  The loss was last time out when Buffalo (Toronto) got to him for five runs in as many innings.  The 30-year-old, who was at Grand Prairie, TX for six starts three years ago, already has 40 major league starts (8-18, 4.52) although he has not been at that level since 2010.

Martin (Grand Prairie) has been sent back to Colorado’s top farm club in Colorado Springs although it seems likely he will get a second major league shot since his first one resulted in a 4.15 ERA for his nine appearances covering 8.2 innings.

(Fans may subscribe to this Independent Baseball Insider column, which will be published 36 times in 2014, at www.WirzandAssociates.com. Bob Wirz provides supplemental stories about Independent Baseball on his blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball experience with Kansas City and as chief spokesman for two Commissioners, and lives in Stratford, CT.)