The next post in the series profiling the fringe players on the Rays 40-man roster. The first player I did was Justin Ruggiano, this week I take a short look at Elliot Johnson.
He was never a top prospect, reaching as high 12th ranked by Baseball America for the 2005 season. It was also the season where they ranked him in their tools portion having the best strike-zone discipline in the organization. Although Johnson has since lost his excellent, but brief, walk to strikeout ratio he posted before reaching Double-A. His big break came in 2008 when Elliot Johnson was on the active roster to start the season as the utility player off the bench. That would be the start of his permanent transition from second baseman to utility player.
Fielding wise, Johnson is probably average at any position playing every one except first base and catcher. Minor League Splits has him mostly in the negatives during the past five seasons. CHONE projects him at about 7 runs below average total if he played 110 games in the Majors. Essentially to the Rays, he is a reserve infielder behind Reid Brignac on the depth chart.
His offense in the minors has been slightly above average over the past couple of seasons after a dismal 2007, according to linear weights. His wOBA for the past three seasons at Durham were .288, .336, and .345. Keep in mind Johnson had only 260 PAs at Durham but flashed his power posting a .450 slugging percentage, just five points below his career best in 2006 at Double-A Montgomery. A switch-hitter, Johnson has struggled hitting lefties the past two seasons although having a better OPS against them since 2005.
I’m surprised he has stayed this long with the Rays, and now without anymore options. He is infield depth and already on the 40-man roster so he’ll stick around a bit longer. Although don’t be surprised if he gets designated for assignment during the season to make room for an acquired player.
Stats from Baseball-Reference, Fan Graphs, and Minor League Splits.