As we slog through this incredibly boring offseason, I just wanted to make a quick point before I return you to your regularly scheduled hot stove snooze fest and salary arbitration filings. The Dodgers recently were finally back in the news when they flipped second baseman Micah Johnson to the Braves for a player to be named later and or cash.
If you remember Johnson was acquired from the Dodgers as part of the 3-team deal that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox. This of course means that they traded him to the Braves for potentially nothing. The front office called the Braves because that is now the new location where player’s careers go to die, and this is probably how the conversation went….
Andrew Friedman “Hey there John, do you want Micah Johnson”?
John H : “Micah who”?
Friedman “Johnson, Micah Johnson. You know former prospect from the White Sox organization, very little power, above average speed, terrible fielding, poor on-base skills…. Etc, etc, etc. I mean we’ll just give him to you.”
John: “I guess if you give him to us for nothing we can find a spot for him on our triple-A roster. In case you haven’t heard we are in a rebuilding phase”.
Friedman: “Yeah I know John, that’s why I am calling you. Look, just take him alright? We need to clear a roster spot. Send us a PTBL and we’ll call it a deal.
John: “Well……Ok, I guess so”.
Hands to god guys that’s probably how the conversation went down between the Dodgers and the Braves. All joking aside, the Dodgers just needed to clear a roster spot to add the newly resigned Kenley Jansen.
The point here I am trying to make other than poking fun of multiple people is that many prospects never pan out or even come close to panning out despite reaching the upper levels of the minor league systems and or receiving high ratings from scouts and writers. Case in point, check out what was written about Johnson when his trade to the Braves was first reported.
Speed and plate discipline have long been Johnson’s calling cards, but there are some worrying developments in both regards of late. He no longer tries to steal quite as much as he did in his breakout 2013 season, and was cut down on 11 of 37 attempts last year. Also, he surged to a 20.4% strikeout rate at Triple-A in 2016, far more than had been his custom.
Doesn’t sound to appealing does it? He goes on to say….
It doesn’t help that Johnson isn’t regarded as a top-quality fielder and doesn’t have much pop.
So let’s see here, he doesn’t run the bases as well as he used to, he can’t get on-base consistently, and struggles to make contact. He has no power and can’t drive in runs, and is a terrible defensive player. So basically he can’t hit, run the bases anymore, or field. What a prospect!
The point here is not to poke fun at Johnson. The point is to understand that most prospects never even make it to the majors. Most prospects become utility players and middle relievers. We all love to applaud the Dodger’s front office for hoarding their prospects like gold, but prospects can also provide value via trade chips. At one point Johnson was a top ranked prospect and could have possibly brought in a major league player, now he is fighting for an MLB roster spot. He’ll probably end up starting the season in the minors.
This is why it is important not to overrate prospects.
Sorry Micah, here’s hoping you make it with the Braves.