Daniel Johnson’s Silent Breakout
Daniel Johnson may be the most unnoticed breakout player of 2017. Assigned to Low-A this season, Johnson has used his immense physical tools to post a .305/.357/.567 line. Those numbers absolutely destroy the meager .265/.312/.347 he squeaked out last season. Many outlets that analyzed enough prospects to include Johnson agree he boasts double plus speed and potential plus raw due to tremendous bat speed. MLB.com specifically slapped an 80 grade on his best tool, which is of course is his speed. His double plus arm also gives him a weapon to ensure his legs stays in the lineup during slumps at the plate.
The positives in Johnson’s profile just keep coming as well. His 164 wRC+, .419 wOBA, and .276 ISO all rank in the top-7 of his South Atlantic League. Yes, he has hit well enough to declare the SAL his own. My favorite stat of all may be his understated .317 BABIP. That mark is definitely on the low side for a player with his speed, and is more than sustainable. I am also encouraged to see his walk rate more than double from 2.7% last season to 6.1% this year. Johnson admitted that selectivity in his approach was something he was working on this season. In addition, an increase in power is supported by a bump in flyballs, from 24.1% last season to 43.5% in 2017.
Going to the videotape, he appears to have a short yet powerful stroke. He should not be confused for a 25 homer type of player. But anyone with double plus speed that can drive the ball in any sort of meaningful way needs to be on everyone’s radar. Please consider the following for your viewing pleasure:
The swing looks like it will play, short and quick through the zone. Back to the numbers, Johnson’s stolen base success rate is the only area that did not progress from last season. He stands at five steals in 10 tries this year after a 13/16 showing in 2016. Johnson will play most of this season at age-21, which coincidentally lines up as far as the average age per level is concerned.
I am extremely impressed with Johnson’s game. I have taken the liberty of scooping him up from the waiver wire in all of my deeper leagues. He is definitely one to monitor at the very least in any leagues with a minor league system. While Juan Soto and Carter Kieboom have overshadowed him to this point, but I suspect we will be hearing much more about him as the dog days of summer approach.