A Closer Look at Dodgers’ Micah Johnson

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Apr 9, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox second baseman Micah Johnson (7) makes a throw to first for an out against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox second baseman Micah Johnson (7) makes a throw to first for an out against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /
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When the Dodgers moved second base prospect Jose Peraza, it created something of a hole at second. Micah Johnson could be the one to fill that hole.

The only trade of any significance the Dodgers made in the offseason came in mid-December, when they squeezed into a deal between the White Sox and Reds, sending prospects to Cincinnati and receiving three other prospects from the White Sox. Frankie Montas was definitely the headliner of the group and fans seem to be excited about splash brother sibling Trayce Thompson, but there isn’t a lot of hype around Johnson.

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Johnson was the White Sox’ opening day second baseman last season, but was demoted in May. When Johnson was recalled in September, his struggles transferred to the plate. He only started seven games in September and appeared as a pinch hitter in two others, but he only managed three hits in 31 plate appearances and finished the season with a .230/.306/.270 triple slash.

Here’s a quote from former Chicago, now Dodger writer Doug Padilla on his demotion:

"Obviously from an offensive standpoint, he was contributing, but from a defensive standpoint, he wasn’t quite as consistent, play to play, as we needed him to be at the big-league level and as we expect him to be in the future,” [White Sox’ GM Rick] Hahn added."

Hahn went on to tell Padilla that Johnson, whose main tool is speed, committed a few baserunning blunders as well.

Safe to say, his major league career did not get off to a great start. However, Johnson has had four great minor league seasons, with a combined triple slash of .301/.368/.431. He’s never going to be a big power guy, as he maxed out at eight home runs in the minors. He doesn’t strike out or walk a ton (career highs in both categories in 2013, with 98 and 50, respectively), but when he does he uses his speed fairly well. He stole 22 and 28 bases in 2014 and 2015, respectively, but more than half of his career steals came in 2013 when he swiped 84 bags.

Johnson was recently rated as the seventh-best second base prospect on MLB.com, so obviously his first year in the bigs wasn’t bad enough to completely ruin him. Here’s what MLB Pipeline had to say about Johnson.

"With his well-above-average speed and his on-base ability, Johnson fits both the classic and modern profiles of a leadoff man. He uses the entire field, employs his quickness to beat out bunt and infield hits, and draws a fair amount of walks. Johnson is stronger than the typical speedster and has some gap power, though it sometimes works against him when he gets too aggressive.Johnson is a quality athlete with plenty of quickness, yet he’s rough at second base and there has been talk for years from scouts that he might be better suited for center field. He lacks soft hands and doesn’t have smooth infield actions or footwork."

This should be a good fit down the line for the Dodgers, who don’t have an obvious lead-off candidate at the moment. MLB gave him a 75 for speed on the 20-80 scale, so that’s obviously his biggest tool.

The Dodgers have put a premium on defense, especially in the infield. That’s clear with the ground-ball heavy pitchers and other acquisitions. Howie Kendrick should be the close-to-everyday starter at second for the next couple years, but after that second base is a question mark. While he should be in the lineup as often as possible, Enrique Hernandez should never be tied to one position. Chase Utley will likely not be around past this year (ok yeah I thought that last season as well but this time I mean it). He’s still a work in progress, but Johnson could develop into a prototypical leadoff second baseman if his glove can catch up to his offensive abilities.

He’s currently healing from an avocado-related injury, but he should be back in a week if his stitches heal correctly. He should get a chance to show what he can do in Spring Training, but with a crowded roster it’s tough to see a spot for him on Opening Day. I’d guess he’s

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