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Rays claim 2B/LF Micah Johnson off waivers

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MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays claimed INF Micah Johnson off waivers from the SF Giants, and with the move they now have a full 40-man roster.

Here’s a brief overview of what Johnson brings to the Rays

Micah Johnson - 2B/LF/CF

Age: 26 yrs old B/T: L/R H/W: 6-0/210

Over 61 games in MLB, Johnson has managed the following:

Displayed a lot more promise than he’s shown thus far in AAA, where he’s managed a fair .281 / .341 / .393 over 4 seasons and 1323 PA, and also chipped in 72 SB (28 CS)

Rankings as a Prospect (BA)

Ranked Southern League #16 prospect and International League #14 prospect in 2014

Ranked Los Angeles Dodgers #23 prospect after the 2016 season

Noted mostly for his outstanding speed on the bases (stole a high of 84 bases in 2013)

Quick thoughts and fit with the Rays

  • The first interesting part of this addition by the Rays is that it fills the 40-man roster, which if it remains so going into the Rule 5 draft would mean the Rays could not make an addition within the draft
  • Over the last few seasons Johnson has increased his versatility and continued to steal bases at a good pace despite limited opportunities. Johnson now has played (all levels) 461 games at 2B, 34 in CF, 39 in LF, and 4 in RF
  • His best fit is definitely at 2B due to experience and limited power (Steamer projects .091)
  • The position fit is an interesting one for the Rays who are currently weighing the value of Brad Miller, is expected to get $4.4 million in 2018.
  • The Rays needed another player on the bench who could handle the OF and he fills that role well enough for 2 of the 3 OF positions.
  • Johnson can help the Rays, who ranked 16th in MLB with 88 SB in 2017, with his speed
  • Finally, this move may be an indication that the Rays expect to lose Kean Wong in the Rule 5 draft and want to add 2B depth, whether it be on the bench or in AAA.

Our friends at True Blue LA had this to say about his build and defensive abilities at 2B

Built more like an NFL press cover corner, Johnson has a filled out 6’0 frame and the quick twitchiness to develop an elite first-step quickness on either the basepaths or in the field. His athleticism allows him to flash the spectacular in the field, but his overall defensive ability is hampered by stiff infield actions and hands. Johnson will likely be no better than average at second base and should he spend 2016 in Triple-A, would be best served getting a few innings in center field as a future defensive fall back.

Here’s an example of what he can do, however, when he’s going to work at 2B

Overall

There’s a decent chance that the Rays attempt to pass Johnson through waivers at some point, possibly before the Rule 5 draft. While his addition isn’t a major one for the roster, it could result in the Rays having a nice depth-piece on the roster (or in the minors) that can provide good depth and off-the-bench speed.

It’s nice to see some movement and Johnson does have some upside that the Rays could capitalize on down the road.

You can get to know Johnson a little better by watching this video:

And one more thing....

Johnson give the Rays one thing they have never had before, as far as we know: an artist! Johnson is a painter and he’s apparently a good one, with work displayed at galleries and art shows (he will be at Art Basel in Miami next week, for any South Florida readers). See more about his work on the field and in the studio here.