Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Kelly Johnson Report

Kelly Johnson, OF, Atlanta Braves
Drafted 38th Overall, 2000 Draft, HS, Austin, TX
Bats L/Throws R
23 YO, 6'1", 205 lbs

It really feels like Kelly Johnson has been a prospect for 10 years now. He was drafted as a shortstop and caught everybody's eye when he smashed 23 home runs, drew 71 walks, and stole 25 bases as a 19 year old in Sally League all the way back in 2001. It had statheads and scouts alike expecting a quick, orderly ascent through the minors and a glorious Major League career. It didn't quite happen that way. From there on, he was good, not great. He was competent, not spectacular. He was also moved from short to third and then to the outfield. Well, he's made it up to Richmond, and he's had a pretty nice couple of weeks in his first exposure to AAA pitching, hitting .381/.480/.690 with 8 extra-base hits and 8 walks to only 3 strikeouts in 42 at bats.

2004 Greenville: .282/.350/.468, 35 2B, 16 HR, 49 BB, 102 K, 9 SB, 9 CS, 479 AB
pre-2005 mL Career: .276/.356/.449, 113 2B, 62 HR, 233 BB, 448 K, 63 SB, 1929 AB

Everything looks like what we expect from a a steady player rising through the minors rung by rung. Good power, but nothing eye-catching. Good plate discipline, but he's no OBP machine. Decent average, but no threat for a batting title. He also has a good left fielder's glove with range and a good arm, but he's not a real candidate to move to center. Barring a weird power spike or him being taken over by the aliens who possessed Carlos Guillen last year, he looks like a Paul O'Neil clone for the next generation. That won't blow you away, but it's a hell of a lot better than paying Raul Mondesi and Brian Jordan 7 figure salaries to be replacement level corner outfielders. For fantasy owners, he looks like Mark Kotsay, a guy who you pick up every year in the late rounds when you use your early picks to load up on pitchers and middle infielders. I wouldn't be surprised to see him up late this season when the inevitable injuries befall Jordan and Mondesi.

ETA: Mid/Late 2005
3 1/2 Stars



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