Meet the NRIs: C Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson began his professional career as a fourth round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in the 2004 draft. He attended Saddleback College in California before transferring to the University of Houston where he played one season before entering the MLB Draft in 2004.

In the 2005 season, between A and high A ball, he posted a .280/.332/.432 slash line. The organization noticed and he earned the jump to Triple-A Tacoma the next season. He may have been promoted before he was ready though as he struggled with a line of .231/.261/.318. Over the next two seasons with Tacoma, his Triple-A numbers improved, posting a line of .305/.363/.441 with 9 HR in 2008.

In 2009, he spent the entire year in the majors with Seattle after cups of coffee in 2007 and 2008. He posted a slash line of .213/.289/.326 with 2 HR and 27 RBI in 80 games. After the season he would have two hip surgeries and a wrist surgery, similar to the hip surgeries that Alex Rodriguez has recently undergone.

His 2010 was disappointing as a result and at the end of the season was placed on waivers. The San Diego Padres claimed him and he served as their backup catcher for the entire 2011 season, posting a line of .190/.259/.285. Not good enough and he found himself released. He spent last year with the Mets between Triple-A and a brief stint in the majors where he played 17 games and hit .250.

He comes to St. Louis as a depth replacement for Bryan Anderson, who will be with the Chicago White Sox this season after opting for free agency. It doesn’t hurt that Johnson brings a defensive veteran approach and has a reputation of having a good rapport with a pitching staff. He and fellow non-roster invite J.R. Towles will likely battle for a starting role in Memphis. Something that should benefit the pitchers in Memphis, having two veteran catchers behind the plate.