Thursday, December 11, 2008

Top 15 Hitters: #12 Elliot Johnson

Elliot JohnsonElliot Johnson
6'0'' 160 lbs DOB: 03/09/1984
Second Base
Bats: Switch | Throws: Right
2008: Durham/Tampa Bay
Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent(2002)

This is why these lists are tricky: Balancing upside with chances of reaching that upside. Take a guy like Elliot Johnson, who offers almost no upside, but right now he could be an acceptable back-up/spot starting infielder in the Majors.

And in a system that doesn't offer a whole lot of hitting depth, that's good enough to get on this list. In his second rodeo at Durham, Johnson posted a .261/.322/.424 line, which isn't great, but was far better than his 2007 season(.207/.285/.341). Tools-wise, Johnson doesn't offer a whole lot. He has above-average speed and can steal a base, but grades out as average or below just about everywhere else. He's primarily played 2nd base, where he's decent with the glove. He could also play a bit of SS on an "every-so-often" basis. He doesn't make great contact, and his high strikeout numbers(over 100 each of the past four season) don't exactly inspire hope.

Still, there's value to be had in an advanced middle infielder, even a backup one. So while guys like Chris Nowak and Rhyne Hughes are better hitters than Johnson, they didn't place on the list because they also profile as backups, only they're further down the defensive spectrum. Of course, it's going to be pretty tough for Johnson to even get a shot at the roster, as Willy Aybar and Ben Zobrist have the Rays utility spots seemingly locked down, with Reid Brignac first in line to replace Jason Bartlett in case of an injury.

I think there's a place for Elliot Johnson in the Majors, even if it's as a reserve(and even if it would probably have to be with another organization).

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