2012 MLB Draft: Boston Red Sox Select Brian Johnson At #31

Boston's second of two standard first-round picks is left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson, out of Florida. Johnson was a two-way player there, and led USA's College National Team with three homers during the 2011 summer, but Boston has taken him as a pitcher.

It's not a surprise they have, either, as he has four pitches -- fastball, slider, curve, change-up -- and can throw all of them for strikes. Depending on who you ask, either the bender or his slider is his best secondary offering right now, but his fastball does well inducing whiffs, especially for a pitch that sits in the high-80s and low 90s.

Johnson's ceiling isn't high, by any means, but he projects as a back-end starter, and one that the Red Sox should have no trouble signing. This is the reality of life under the new collective bargaining agreement, when teams have to worry about staying under their draft budget. Signable players who are expected to be MLB regulars have value, even if they aren't as sexy ceiling-wise as riskier selections.

Stop to think about the trouble that even the Red Sox, with their vast resources, had had filling in the back of the rotation over the years, though, and you'll see a reminder as to why Johnson can be useful, even if he's not as wow-worthy as the first pitchers selected by the Red Sox in their last couple of drafts.

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