Winter Leagues Recap: Johnson Pitches Team to Playoffs

In Australian League action from today, Adelaide defeated Perth by a 5-4 score. Stefan Welch was in the starting lineup for Adelaide, while Sam Kennelly came off the bench for Perth. Welch went 1-for-3, with a walk. He went 2-for-13 in the four game series, with a solo homer in game one. Kennelly, who was playing his second game of the series, came in on defense in the bottom of the sixth. He had been starting at third base in previous weeks, but he went in at second base both times this week. Kennelly went 0-for-2 at the plate and he started a 4-6-3 double play in the seventh inning. Kennelly went 2-for-7 over the weekend, with an RBI single.

In the Dominican last night, Kris Johnson pitched brilliantly in a huge spot. With his team playing a win or go home game for the final playoff spot, Johnson allowed one earned run over 7.1 innings, giving up just three base hits, no walks and he struck out 11 batters. At one point he retired 16 in a row and in the sixth inning, he struck out the side. Johnson picked up the win, moving his record to 1-0, 0.67 in 27 innings, with 22 strikeouts and a .125 BAA. He has allowed just 11 hits and six walks.

In Puerto Rico, Benji Gonzalez went 0-for-2, with a walk and a throwing error. Gonzalez has gone five starts in a row without a hit, dropping his average to .204 through 49 AB’s. The error was his third on the season.

  • Do you think Kris has a shot at the ML club next year? His performance in the DWL has to be a huge boost in confidence – maybe he has learned to trust his stuff. I realize this league is somewhere between AA and AAA but there are ML bats in there too.

    • I think he has probably opened some eyes, and it was a good sign that the Pirates resigned him right away as a minor league free agent. I would say it is likely he is low on the depth chart, but should have a bigger role than last year when he was bounced around between starting/reliever and Altoona/Indy.
      The lineup he faced last night had Alexi Casilla, Wilson Valdez, Carlos Peguero, Moises Sierra and Nelson Cruz in it, all current major leaguers. Also former Pirates catcher Robinzon Diaz and Rhyne Hughes, who played for the 2010 Orioles, were there.
      So he faced a lineup with five current major leaguers and two recent former players. He did not beat up on a weak off-season lineup. Add in the playoff atmosphere and he pitched a huge game last night.