Journell was born in Springfield, Ohio. He graduated from North High School and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1998, he played collegiate summer baseball with the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
He was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 4th round of the 1999 MLB Draft, and was selected for the US team in the 2002 All-Star Futures Game. He was once a highly regarded prospect in the Cardinals' minor league system (even considered the team's best prospect according to Baseball America), but had control and injury problems in the Major Leagues. After posting an earned run average (ERA) of 6.00 in seven games in 2003, Journell suffered a right shoulder injury in 2004, forcing him to undergo season-ending surgery. In 2005, he was 0-1 with a 10.38 ERA in five appearances for the Cardinals.
On December 1, 2005 he signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds, but was later released on March 20, 2006, He spent the 2006 season with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.