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Termarr Johnson Would Be A Very Unusual Top-Five MLB Draft Pick

Termarr Johnson Mattdirksenrockies
Termarr Johnson (Matt Dirksen/Colorado Rockies)

UPDATE: A scout reached out to note that Johnson's official height as measured at the East Coast Pro Showcase was 5-foot-7, which just adds to the potential uniqueness as a potential top five pick.

Coming out of the summer, second baseman Termarr Johnson ranks No. 1 on Baseball America’s 2022 Top 50 high school draft prospects. It seems highly likely that he will be among the top 10 picks in next year’s draft, and he has a very good chance to be a top-five pick.

There's a lot to like about Johnson. He's one of the most advanced hitters to come out of high school in years. His consistent ability to square up seemingly any prep pitcher on the showcase circuit has made him a star this summer. He's also a smooth defender at second base. His combination of intelligence, polish and drive makes him a scout's favorite.

But he would be a very unusual top-five pick. Johnson is listed at 5-foot-10 (and was measured at 5-foot-7 at the East Coast Pro Showcase), which is shorter than most players who are taken in the top-10 picks. He also is seen most likely as a second baseman in pro ball. Prep players who are seen as second basemen are almost never taken in the top-10 picks.

The combination together would be somewhat unprecedented.

Using Pramana’s Shift Tool allows us to quickly put together just how unusual this combination is.

Here’s a look at every 5-foot-10 or shorter position player taken in the top-10 picks since the first MLB draft in 1965. Of the 570 top-10 picks, only 20 (3.5%) have been position players who are 5-foot-10 or shorter.

20041San Diego PadresMatt BushSSRR69
19743Philadelphia PhilliesLonnie SmithOFRR69
19813Los Angeles AngelsDick SchofieldSSRR70
19983Chicago CubsCorey PattersonOFLR70
20184Chicago White SoxNick MadrigalSSRR67
20104Kansas City RoyalsChristian ColonSSRR70
19685Los Angeles DodgersBobby ValentineOFRR70
19795Oakland AthleticsJuan BustabadSSBR69
19766Los Angeles AngelsKen LandreauxOFLR70
19826Seattle MarinersSpike OwenSSBR70
20207Pittsburgh PiratesNick GonzalesSSRR70
20157Boston Red SoxAndrew BenintendiOFLL70
20108Houston AstrosDelino DeShields Jr.2BRR69
19779Texas RangersDavid HibnerSSRR70
19789Montreal ExposGlen FranklinSSLR70
200210Texas RangersDrew MeyerSSLR70
201810Pittsburgh PiratesTravis SwaggertyOFLL70
197110Atlanta BravesTaylor DuncanSSRR70
197210California AngelsDave Chalk3BRR70
197310Atlanta BravesPat RockettSSRR70

Short hitters being taken in the top-10 picks are rare, but a high school second baseman being taken in the top-10 picks has only happened once: Delino DeShields Jr. in 2010 (eighth overall by the Astros). There have been only five high school second baseman ever taken in the top-30 picks.

20108Houston AstrosDelino DeShields Jr.2BRR69
197114New York MetsRich Puig2BLR70
202017Boston Red SoxNick Yorke2BRR72
197419San Francisco GiantsTerry Lee2BLR61
200930Tampa Bay RaysLeVon Washington2BLR71

Admittedly, there are some caveats to this list. Often, a likely pro second baseman will be announced as a shortstop in the draft, even if he ends up playing second base for most of his pro career. Nick Madrigal, the fourth pick in the 2018 draft, was listed as a shortstop when the White Sox selected him, even though he played second base throughout almost his entire college career. Madrigal has played exactly one game at shortstop in his pro career.

Johnson does play shortstop in addition to second base, and may be listed as a shortstop when he is selected. But even if he is drafted as a shortstop, he still would be a rare demographic as a top-10 pick.

The fact that Johnson may end up as a top-five pick and even a candidate to go 1-1 overall does signify how the game is changing. A few decades ago, his stature would likely disqualify him from top-five consideration, but just as short righthanded pitchers are now viewed more favorably than they were years ago, teams have come around to the idea that if you can hit, height isn't really an issue.

On top of that, the success of Jose Altuve, Dustin Pedroia, Jose Ramirez and Ozzie Albies in the 21st century has shown that being shorter than the average MLB hitter doesn't preclude a player from providing plenty of power. Their success will likely make it a little easier for teams to consider Johnson at the top of this upcoming draft class.

Termarr Johnson Mikejanesfourseam

2022 Baseball America Staff Draft Version 3.0

With the 2022 draft a few days away we put together a two-round staff draft, with analysis of all 66 picks.

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