- Full name Elliot Tyler Johnson
- Born 03/09/1984 in Safford, AZ
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: S / Throws: R
- School Thatcher
- Debut 04/05/2008
Organization Prospect Rankings
Johnson, whose brother Leon has been drafted three times by the Devil Rays and is now at Brigham Young, played his high school ball in a small mining town in eastern Arizona that isn't on any of the scouting trails. He would have headed to Eastern Arizona JC had Rays scout Craig Weissmann hadn't headed to an all-star game while on a trip to sign 2002 second- round pick Jason Pridie. Weissmann spotted Johnson and signed him as a nondrafted free agent. Since then, Johnson has made steady progress. Plus speed has long been his best tool, but he also has developed solid power from both sides of the plate in the last two years. He was just one of six minor leaguers to reach double digits in doubles, triples and homers in 2006. He came just the second player in pro baseball history to hit three homers in the first three innings of a game, joining Carl Reynolds of the 1930 White Sox when he accomplished the feat in 2004. Johnson is still somewhat raw at the plate and on the bases. His swing gets long when he tires, which results in high strikeout totals that he'll need to reduce in order to become a true leadoff man. He also could stand to draw more walks. After stealing 43 bases in each of the previous two seasons, he dropped to just 20 and was caught 18 times in 2006, illustrating the need for improving his reads and jumps. Johnson's range at second base is above average, and he has made steady improvement with his ability to turn the double play. His defensive consistency also has gotten better, and he made just 13 errors in 2006--down from 30 the year before. Johnson should make the jump to Triple-A in 2007 and could make his big league debut at some point during the year. His combination of speed and pop should enable him to stick in the majors, but his consistency will determine whether he becomes a starter or a utilityman.
Johnson emerged as a bona-fide prospect in 2004 and built on that reputation while making an in-season jump to Double-A last summer. The second baseman created havoc on the basepaths in the California League, stealing 28 bases in 33 attempts, though nagging leg injuries tempered his aggressiveness after he moved up. Signed by scout Craig Weissmann as a nondrafted free agent in 2002, Johnson is a solid all-around player. In addition to his plus speed, he should develop consistent extra-base power once his body fills out more completely and adds some strength. Though he's not a big home run threat, he's one of just two players in professional baseball history to hit three homers in the first three innings of a game. He pulled off that feat on May 28, 2004, joining Carl Reynolds of the 1930 White Sox. Johnson needs to reduce his strikeouts by cutting down on his somewhat long swing. Defensively, he has plenty of range and arm strength at second base, yet must improve upon his fielding mechanics and his consistency. A gritty, hard-nosed performer, Johnson could be a starting second baseman in the big leagues, but is more likely to be a utilityman. He should make the jump to Triple-A during the 2006 season.
On May 28, 2004, Johnson became the second player in professional baseball history to hit three homers in the first three innings of a game, joining Carl Reynolds of the 1930 White Sox. Power isn't Johnson's game, however. A nondrafted free agent from a high school in a remote part of Arizona, he's a speedy scrapper with a knack for getting on base. He hit just three more homers the rest of 2004, but ranked fourth in the South Atlantic League in steals and tied for fifth in runs. A switch-hitter, he has fine strike-zone judgment and usually tries to hit everything on the ground in order to best use his wheels. However, he may have lost a bit of focus after his three-homer game as he hit just .243 the rest of the way while his strikeout-walk ratio deteriorated. Scouts believe Johnson will be able to drive more pitches once he matures physically. Johnson's body remains underdeveloped and lacks both strength and stamina. Despite his overall athleticism, his defensive skills are limited to the right side of the diamond. He also can learn to read pitchers better on steal attempts. The Rays believe that with continued improvement, Johnson could emerge as their starting second baseman. He has an outside chance of winning a job in Double-A, but he most likely will start 2005 in high Class A.
Johnson is an underdog who could be on the verge of a breakthrough season. A non-drafted free agent signed out of a high school in a remote area of Arizona, he missed two months last year with a left hamstring injury. His strengths are his athleticism, plus speed and knack for drawing walks. He has excellent strike-zone judgment and tries to hit everything on the ground in order to take advantage of his wheels. He does have a long ways to go offensively, however, as he strikes out too much and exhibits little power. He'll have to get stronger. Defensively, he's solid at second base and turns double plays well. Though he remains a work in progress, Johnson could be a surprise. He'll start for one of Tampa Bay's Class A affiliates this year.
Best Tools List
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the California League in 2005
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Tampa Bay Rays in 2005