Sunday, February 16, 2014

Meet A Prospect: Kelly Johnson

Kelly Andrew Johnson was born on February 22, 1982. Johnson was drafted in the 1st round, 38th overall, in the 2000 Major League Baseball First Year Players Draft by the Atlanta Braves.

Kelly made his Major League debut on May 29, 2005 and became a regular outfielder that season after the Braves outfield was stricken with injuries. 2005 was your run of the mill rookie season except for when Johnson was named the National League Player of the Week for the week on June 13 after batting .417 with three home runs and 11 RBI’s. Johnson went into 2006 looking to build on his rookie campaign but was sidelined for the entire 2006 season due to an elbow injury that he suffered during Spring Training. Johnson ended up needed Tommy John surgery on June 1, performed by Dr. James Andrews. Johnson took the down time of the 2007 offseason to work with Braves first base coach Glenn Hubbard to learn how to play second base and earned the starting second base job and the leadoff position in the lineup heading into 2007.  Johnson would only stay the Braves leadoff hitter until June that season to Willie Harris and then lost his starting job when he was platooned at second base with Yunel Escobar. All in all Johnson finished 2007 with 16 home runs and a .276 batting average. Johnson would quickly get his starting second base job back in 2008 when Yunel won the starting shortstop job for the Braves. Johnson responded by having the longest hitting streak in the National League in 2008 hitting in 22 straight games and also hit .398 with 19 RBI’s in the month of September. Johnson finished 2008 with a .287 batting average with 12 home runs, 69 RBI’s, 86 runs, and 11 stolen bases putting to bed any more talk of a platoon situation, at least for now. 2009 was not a good year for Johnson as he lost his full time starting position once again and was non-tendered in December of 2009 making him a free agent.

It didn’t take Johnson long to latch on as on December 30, 2009 he signed a one year deal worth $2.35 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Johnson had nothing but good to say about Arizona, who tried to acquire him from the Braves before the non-tender.Phoenix is just a place I've always liked, it's one of the top for me. Just with the team, we've got guys all over the field that are young, athletic, tons of talent. It's one of the places that you come in and you did not want to face the guys that were on the mound.” Johnson’s first month as a Diamonback was a good one earning him Player of the Month  by hitting nine home runs, slugging .750, batting .313 with 18 RBI’s, scoring 17 runs, and having a .404 OBP. Johnson also hit for the cycle in 2010 against the San Francisco Giants. The 2011 season saw Johnson hit a few clutch home runs, including two grand slams, that were big lifters for the Diamondbacks team. On August 23 of 2011 though Johnson was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for second basemen Aaron Hill and John McDonald. Johnson hit his 100th career home run in a Blue Jays uniform in what was an uneventful year and a month plus in Toronto.

In January of 203 the Tampa Bay Rays signed Johnson to a one year deal worth $2.45 million and Kelly was the Rays Opening Day designated hitter. In the 2013 season Johnson played all over the field including DH, left field, second base, third base, and three games at first base. Johnson got into 118 games in 2013 and posted a .235 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI’s, although his walk rate dropped 27 less walks this season than last and saw 60 less strike outs, although he did play in 24 fewer games. Johnson would head into the 2014 offseason as a free agent once again and would sign a one year deal with the New York Yankees worth $3 million. Now Johnson plans to take his versatility and experience to the Bronx where I fully expect him to put up 20 home run numbers and RBI totals inching towards 80. Good luck in the Bronx Kelly and welcome to the family!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)