Courtesy St. Paul Saints media relations
St. Paul, Minn. — Dan Johnson has worked hard to reinvent himself this season as a knuckleball pitcher. The former Major League hitter has made great strides this season, in a short amount of time, as a pitcher with the St. Paul Saints. He will now get the chance to get back to the Major League’s as a hurler. His contract was purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and he is headed to Double-A Tulsa. He is the second St. Paul pitcher to have his contract purchased by a major-league organization on Monday, along with LHP Eric Veglahn and RHP John Straka, who both joined the Blue Jays.
The 37-year-old Johnson has been an incredible two-way player for the Saints. On the mound he was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA in seven starts. In 40.0 innings he has walked 20 and struck out 27 while opponents are hitting just .231 against him. Over three straight starts from July 28-August 13 Johnson allowed just one run over 18.2 innings pitched.
Johnson also played first base and was a designated hitter for the Saints providing some much needed pop in the middle of the lineup following the injury to first baseman Angelo Songco. Johnson hit .277 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 18 games as a hitter. In 65 at bats he scored 12 runs, had a .373 on base percentage and a .554 slugging percentage.
Johnson had been tinkering with the knuckleball for the last few years and went to camp with the Tampa Bay Rays this year as a pitcher, the same team he hit a famous tying home run in Game 162 in 2011. After going to camp with the Rays he signed with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League on April 8, 2016. He pitched five games (four starts) and went 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA. In 18.0 innings pitched he walked 15 and struck out 14 while opponents hit .242 against him. The Bluefish traded him to the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League, on June 13, for a player to be named later, but was only used as a position player. As a position player between the two teams he hit .222 with seven home runs and 34 RBI in 58 games.
Johnson was a seventh round pick by the Oakland Athletics in 2001 out of the University of Nebraska.