Indians View Daniel Johnson As Potential Regular
The Indians went through the offseason with their outfield being the biggest area of concern. They opened spring training in 2019 with nine outfielders on their 40-man roster, but just three were homegrown—Greg Allen, Tyler Naquin and Bradley Zimmer.
Naquin will miss most of 2020 recovering from a serious knee injury. Zimmer has missed most of the last two years due to injuries, and Allen appears best suited to be a an outfield extra.
Thus, the Indians probably will rely on outfielders acquired from other teams to fill those positions yet again. Last year, it was center fielder Oscar Mercado, acquired from the Cardinals, and right fielder Franmil Reyes, traded from the Padres.
Acquired from the Nationals for Yan Gomes in November 2018, the 24-year-old Johnson finished the 2019 season with a strong showing at Triple-A Columbus.
After starting the season at Double-A, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound, lefthanded-hitting outfielder moved up to Triple-A and got even better. On the year, Johnson slashed .290/.361/.507 with 19 home runs, 34 doubles and 12 stolen bases.
Johnson, the Nationals' 2016 fifth-round pick from New Mexico State, was added to the Indians’ 40-man roster in November. Now, he's positioned to potentially make his major league debut in 2020.
"We’re pleased with DJ’s development from the standpoint that he improved upon his offensive production at the upper levels in his first year with us,” vice president of player development James Harris said. "His potential to impact our major league team in the future is equally exciting.”
Johnson hit .311 with power against righthanders last season, but it was his improvement against lefties that impressed the Indians. After hitting .161 against lefthanders in 2018, Johnson improved to .241/.345/.434 in 2019.
"We hope to build on that progress and look to develop Daniel as a potential everyday outfielder," Harris said.