The Rockies have traded RHP Pierce Johnson to the Braves for a pair of minor leaguers, per source.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 24, 2023
Colorado receives RHP Victor Vodnik and RHP Tanner Gordon in exchange for Johnson, per source. Vodnik is the Braves' No. 10 prospect and Gordon is No. 26 per @MLBPipeline.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 24, 2023
Johnson joined the Rockies early in the offseason on a one-year, $5 million contract in the hopes that he could bolster the bullpen. Entering the season, Johnson found himself thrust into the closer role after Daniel Bard started the year on the injured list with anxiety. Despite shaky results, Johnson managed to convert his first 11 save opportunities through the end of May but was sporting a 6.23 ERA after 23 appearances. After a pair of blown saves in early June, Johnson was removed as the closer in favor of Justin Lawrence.
It has been a rough season for Johnson with his native Colorado Rockies. In 39 innings across 43 games, Johnson has a 1-5 record with 13 saves as well as a 6.00 ERA and 1.846 WHIP, both of which are career-highs. Johnson’s main struggles came from command issues as evidenced by his career-high 5.8 BB/9 and a tendency to allow home runs at a 1.6 HR/9 rate. However, Johnson was still adept at getting punchouts as needed, boasting a 13.4 K/9 — the best mark in a full season for the reliever. A move away from Coors Field where he has a 7.23 ERA this season could prove beneficial for Johnson and the Braves as he has a 4.11 ERA on the road this season with the same amount of strikeouts.
In return, the Rockies have received a pair of intriguing prospects. Both pitchers are right-handed and rank among the Braves’ top 30 prospects for MLB Pipeline, with Vodnik ranking 10th and Gordon at 26th.
Vodnik, 23, was originally drafted by the Braves in the 14th round of the 2018 draft out of Rialto High School in California. In five minor league seasons, he has a 3.48 ERA in 99 games and has primarily worked specifically out of the bullpen since 2022. Vodnik is currently having one of his best seasons so far with the Double-A Mississippi Braves, posting a 3.10 ERA across 40 2⁄3 innings in 30 games. He boasts a 12.4 K/9 this season but can struggle with walks at a 5.5 BB/9 rate. He features a primary mix of a fastball and changeup, with his fastball able to occasionally reach triple digits.
Gordon, 25, was originally drafted by the Braves in the sixth round of the 2019 draft from Indiana University Bloomington. In four minor league seasons, Gordon has made 77 appearances (62 starts) to the tune of a 4.54 ERA across 339 innings of work. Gordon started the season in Double-A where he pitched fairly well through five starts before being promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett in May. However, he struggled to an 8.28 ERA in six games there and was demoted back to Double-A in mid-June. In Double-A he has seen more success, posting a 4.61 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 15 walks in 56 2⁄3 innings of work.
At 6-foot-5, Gordon has continued to slowly improve his velocity on the mound. In 2022 he was averaging about 93 mph on the mound and has topped out at 95 mph. It’s also notable that his fastball does have some carry up in the zone, which complements his secondary pitches — a slider and changeup.
This is the first domino to fall for the Rockies as the Trade Deadline draws closer and could be an indication of some busy times in the days ahead.
The Rockies should be very active over the next week, with C.J. Cron, Randal Grichuk, Jurickson Profar, Brent Suter and Brad Hand all potentially being moved.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 24, 2023
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!