Braves Acquire Pierce Johnson From Rockies For Two Minor League Pitchers


Image credit: Pierce Johnson (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

In a move to fortify their bullpen, the Braves acquired Pierce Johnson from the Rockies in exchange for minor league righthanders Victor Vodnik and Tanner Gordon on Monday. The move allows the Braves to cover for a recent injury to Jesse Chavez, in addition to injuries to Nick Anderson, Dylan Lee, Tyler Matzek and A.J. Minter. 

Vodnik ranked as the Braves’ No. 14 prospect entering the season. Gordon did not rank in their Top 30.


Pierce Johnson, RHP
Age: 32

A supplemental first-round pick of the Cubs in 2012, Johnson pitched briefly in the majors in 2017-18 before going to Japan and flourishing for the Hanshin Tigers. He returned to MLB with the Padres and spent three seasons as a solid middle reliever with the club before signing a one-year deal with the Rockies before the 2023 season. Johnson became the Rockies closer and struggled in the role this year, going 1-5, 6.00 with 13 saves, but he pitched much better on the road (4.11 ERA, 17.0 K) than at home (7.23 ERA, 11.0 K.9) at Coors Field. Johnson has power stuff with a 95-98 mph fastball and a swing-and-miss, power curveball in the mid-80s. He struggles with poor fastball command and high walk totals, but he commands his curveball in the strike zone and racks up whiffs with it. Moving out of Coors Field and into a lower-leverage role should help Johnson perform better over the second half of the season with the Braves, especially with his curveball-heavy attack. He is signed through the end of this year and will be a free agent after the season.


Victor Vodnik, RHP
Age: 23

A 14th-round draft pick by the Braves in 2018, Vodnik spent his first three seasons in the Braves organization as a starter but converted to relief prior to the 2022 season. He has found success in the bullpen, where he has gone 3-1, 3.10 with 56 strikeouts and 25 walks in 40.2 innings this year as the closer at Double-A Mississippi. Vodnik has power stuff with a 96-100 mph fastball out of a low release height that makes it difficult for batters to barrel up. He throws both a two-seam and four-seam fastball and complements them with an upper-80s changeup with plus-plus sink and run and a below-average short slider in the mid-80s. Vodnik has a max-effort delivery and below-average control that need to improve. He has the power stuff to pitch in a high-leverage relief if he can find the strike zone more often.

Tanner Gordon, RHP
Age: 25

A sixth-round pick out of Indiana in 2019, Gordon has recorded strong strikeout and walk rates throughout his career but struggled to limit hard contact. He has a career 4.54 ERA in the minors, including a 5.86 ERA this year in 17 appearances (16 starts) between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. Gordon is a tall, 6-foot-5 righthander with a fastball that sits 92-93 mph and touches 96 with downhill plane. His primary secondary is an average, mid-80s cutter/slider hybrid that gets chase swings out of the zone. He’ll also mix in a mid-80s changeup and a true cutter in the upper-80s. Gordon has average control and throws everything for strikes, but his fastball is hittable in the strike zone. He’ll need to find ways to stay off of barrels with it in order to crack the majors as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone