Family Break Up
Potential reunion doesn't hinder Giants' selection
SAN FRANCISCO—The Giants liked Steve Johnson's delivery, his stuff and his smarts on the mound. So they grabbed him from the Orioles in the Rule 5 draft.
Busting up a family reunion? That didn't test their conscience one bit.
The Orioles weren't happy to lose Johnson, and not just because of his arm. The righthander is the son of former Orioles pitcher and current broadcaster Dave Johnson. Just five months earlier, the younger Johnson was a happy footnote when he arrived from the Dodgers in the trade for reliever George Sherrill.
You could say the Giants were simply getting even. Earlier in the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles used the third overall pick to take lefthander Ben Snyder from them. Baltimore spun Snyder to the Rangers to complete the deal for Kevin Millwood.
The Giants liked Snyder, a command pitcher from Ball State who thrived in a relief role at Double-A Connecticut last season. They also like Johnson, 22, who could contribute in long relief or provide starting depth. The Giants needed a few more pitching choices after sacrificing two of their better prospects—Tim Alderson and Scott Barnes—in trades last summer.
"He's got a nice delivery and a nice arm," general manager Brian Sabean said. "It's taking a flier. We'll take a look at him in spring training and see what we've got."
As always in Rule 5 situations, Johnson must remain on the Giants' 25-man roster all season or be placed on waivers. And if unclaimed, he'd have to be offered back to the Orioles for $25,000.
The older Johnson was a sinkerball pitcher, but it's here that father and son take divergent paths. Steve uses a four-seam fastball that sits at 88-91 mph and has three other solid-average pitches—a slider, slow curve and changeup—that should play at higher levels. He finished last season at Double-A Bowie, posting 2.84 in seven starts.
• The Giants lost outfielder Brian Horwitz to the Indians in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft. Horwitz, 27, won batting titles in the short-season Northwest and low Class A South Atlantic Leagues.
• The Giants took lefthander Jake Stevens from Baltimore in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft. They also lost righthander Raul Burgos in the Double-A phase to the Dodgers.