On Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals called up veteran first baseman Dan Johnson from Memphis (AAA) and optioned Tyler Lyons and Marcus Hatley back down to the Memphis Redbirds.
Johnson, unlike most of the players called up to the Cardinals roster lately, such as Tommy Pham, Xavier Scruggs, and Greg Garcia, among others, Johnson isn’t a young rookie prospect that will be a part of the future of the Cardinals organization.
If anything, Johnson is a veteran with plenty of experience for the younger players to learn from.
The 35-year old Johnson was originally drafted by the Oakland Athletics as a seventh round pick during the 2001 amateur Draft, from Butler University. After three years in the minor leagues, Johnson made his Major League debut for the Athletics on May 27th, 2005.
He had made an immediate impact during the 2005 baseball season, playing in 109 games, scoring 54 runs, garnering 103 hits, hitting 21 doubles, as well as 15 home runs, finishing with a .275 batting average. Over the next two years, his batting average dropped from .234 with a minor raise of it to .236.
In 2007, Johnson hit a career high 18 home runs, and also hit a career high 62 RBIs. He also had career highs in strikeouts (77), walks (72), and total bases (174).
After just one game with the Athletics in the 2008 season, Johnson was sent to the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
During his three year tenure with the Rays, Johnson played in 81 games, scored a mere 25 runs, 37 hits, four doubles, 11 home runs, and an average of .168. His biggest moment with Tampa Bay came on April 8th, 2011, when he hit a game-winning three run home run in a game against the Chicago White Sox, as the Rays won 9-7.
Over the course of the next three seasons, Johnson had signed with four different teams, all to minor contracts: the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays. All stints had little impact with the major league affiliates, although he did play in 15 games for the Blue Jays during the 2014 season.
It was during the 2015 offseason that Johnson was a member with the Cincinnati Reds’ AAA affiliate Louisville Bats, but was released on April 23rd. The St. Louis Cardinals signed him to a minor league contract on May 4th, 2015. Up to this point in the season, Johnson has hit .265 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs in 61 games for the Memphis Redbirds.
For now, it remains to be seen how long he will be on the major league roster of the Cardinals, but with the offense struggling to consistently put up runs, Johnson could be a welcomed addition.
(Photo Credit: Roger Cotton)