By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — A lifelong dream will soon come true for Cubs right-hander Pierce Johnson.
Selected as a sandwich pick late in the first round of the 2012 amateur draft, Johnson joined Chicago’s bullpen before Wednesday evening’s win and is readying for his big league debut. Fulfilling a role as a reliever wasn’t what Johnson expected years back, but he transitioned to the bullpen last summer after he was plagued with some injury woes and control problems.
Johnson was the first pitcher selected by the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer regime in Chicago, and the Cubs did so on the recommendation of late area scout Stan Zielinski.
Johnson is 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA, 1.86 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 14 innings at Triple-A Iowa this season. The Cubs are hoping they can achieve a similar result with him as they did in moving power reliever C.J. Edwards to the bullpen.
“This way I can go out there and still establish the fastball and slider,” Johnson said Thursday about embracing his role as a reliever. “This is a different plan of attack. I don’t need to establish a breaking ball. It is just my best against the hitter’s best. That has really translated to success for me.”