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Saturday, November 6, 2021

Paul Johnson turned pitcher, then saw three pro seasons; Made high-A

Rutgers senior first baseman Paul Johnson found himself drafted in 1988, but his new team wasn't interested in him as an infielder. They wanted him as a pitcher, The Central New Jersey Home News wrote.

He'd pitched previously, but not in four years. Johnson was just happy he'd been taken, The Home News wrote.

"Whatever they want me to do," Johnson told The Home News. "I feel a little more confident going in as a pitcher than a first baseman. Call it gut feeling."

Johnson went on to take his confidence to three pro seasons as a pitcher He topped out at high-A.

Johnson's career began that year in 1988, taken by the Mets in the 21st round of the draft out of Rutgers.

At Rutgers, Johnson picked up four hits in a March 1988 win, The Bridgewater Courier-News wrote.

"At the beginning, they pitched me outside with a fastball," Johnson told The Courier-News afterward, "but then they moved their outfielders around, so I figured they'd pitch me inside, so I adjusted."

With the Mets, Johnson took the mound at rookie Kingsport. He went 2-2, with a 6.10 ERA and five saves over 24 relief outings.

He moved to short-season Pittsfield for 1989. He went 0-1, with 18 saves and a 1.85 ERA. He picked up his second save in an early July game and received praise from his manager Tim Blackwell, helping cover for another reliever who'd gone long the night before, The Berkshire Eagle wrote.

"It was a real good effort and it was Johnson's job to pick him up and he did," Blackwell told The Eagle

Johnson moved to high-A St. Lucie and single-A Columbia for 1990. He went 1-2, with four saves and a 4.48 ERA between them. That season marked his last as a pro.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,776
Made the Majors:1,276-33.8%
Never Made Majors:2,500-66.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:525
10+ Seasons in the Minors:313

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