Posts Tagged ‘Elliot Johnson’
With the end of the minor league season this past week, it seems like some players let up and stopped playing as hard while others somehow excel. In the latter group this year is Elliot Johnson of the Columbus Clippers of the International League (AAA). Johson was 8 for 15 last week (.533) with a home run, 5 walks, 3 runs scored and 6 rbis. Johnson improved his minors record for the season to a .236 average over 314 at bats.
A bit behind Johnson last week was Brett Pill, who plays for the Kia Tigers of the Korean League. Pill was 10 for 22 last week (.455) with a home run (his 17th), 4 runs scored and 5 rbis. Pill’s season average is up to .317. Adam Law also improved last week, hitting 7 for 22 (.318), helping him finish with a .273 average.
One by one the Mormon players drafted two years ago have been promoted this year from class A to A+. The lone holdout among the position players is Marcus Littlewood, who again made the case for his promotion this week. Littlewood, a catcher, was 8 for 19 (.421) last week with 7 runs scored, 5 rbis, 6 walks and 2 home runs–and in the process he pushed himself onto the Midwest League leader board with a .348 OBP (tied for 21st in the league).
His performance for the season aren’t that bad either. He is hitting .251 with 41 rbis and 38 walks and a .348/.398/.745 slash line. But as a catcher Littlewood’s performance must also be judged on how he called the games. Unfortunately, his progress in that area isn’t available as a statistic and isn’t something I can judge.
While it might not seem the case, playing well in a backup role is hard. Because the batter doesn’t see as many pitches, its harder to do as well at the plate. So, when a backup player is doing well, that is noteworthy.
In that sense, John Buck’s current performance is great. He was 4 for 10 last week (.400), and his season average is up to .271 (on 59 at bats). Buck has only hit better than that in one season of his 11 year career, so it seems unlikely that he will keep up that level for the rest of the year—especially as a backup catcher. But his performance so far is still great.
Its amazing how different the regular season can be from spring training. Last week, Elliot Johnson was on top of the Mormon players in spring training, and this week, in the regular season, he is on the bottom, while Jacoby Ellsbury, mediocre in most of spring training, has transformed into the best performer among the Mormon players.
Ellsbury started the season in 3s — hitting .333 (7 for 21), scoring 3 runs, stealing 3 bases and walking three times. All this he managed while his team (the Yankees) managed a mediocre performance.
If it is possible to “win” spring training, then Elliot Johnson has pulled it off this year. Johnson, who has built a career as a utility infielder, did what he needed to. He was .345/.387/.586 during the spring—numbers that would attract the attention of any manager. But Johnson has managed similar numbers in previous years in spring training—in 2008 and 2011—but his performance during the year has fallen far short. His best year in the majors was 2012, when he hit .242/.304/.350. Still, his performance has won him a spot in the opening day roster. Without doubt, he will be trying to do still better this year.
Johnson was particularly strong during the last week of spring training, when he led all the other Mormon players except the Rangers’ Adam Rosales. Rosales was 5 for 11 last week (.455) with a run scored. But Rosales hasn’t done nearly as well as Johnson, recording a weak .191 spring batting average. And also unlike Johnson, Rosales has been designated for assignment to AAA.
The Washington National’s Doug Fister has been very strong in his few innings of work this Spring Training, despite working through elbow inflammation that delayed his work. Fister has thrown for 5.2 innings and given up just 1 earned run and 1 walk while striking out 6. This past week he worked for 3.2 scoreless innings. So far he has the best record among Mormon pitchers albeit with some of the fewest innings of work.
As pundits wondered whether the Cubs would keep Darwin Barney at second this year, because of his poor performance at the plate last year, Barney’s bat woke up in a big way, as he was 4 for 9 last week (.444) and raised his spring training average to .308. Of course, Barney will need to keep up a high level at the plate for the final weeks of spring training to show that last year’s average was an aberration. We’ll keep an eye on him.
For some players, spring training has to be stressful. If your status reads “NRI” (non-roster invitee) or if you are at the bottom of your team’s depth chart (or you think you are), then how well you do in spring training makes all the difference.
The Indian’s Elliot Johnson, in spring training as a non-roster invitee, must be struggling with that now. And so far he seems to be making a strong case. Johnson was 5 for 13 last week (.385) with 3 rbis, bringing his total so-far to 5 rbis in just 16 at bats. Can he keep this level of performance up for most of spring training? If he does, will it mean he makes the roster?
Its too early to read much into the first week’s performance in Spring Training games, but its hard not to notice that Darwin Barney has started hot. Barney went 3 for 5 in the first handful of games, with a home run, 2 RBIs and a run scored.
We are a week away from the first Spring Training baseball games, and most players have already reported. And as always happens during the off-season, many players have moved from one team to another as managers search for just the right combination of players, and players look for more money or better opportunities.
Of course, the Mormons in professional are no exception. Here is a rundown of the Mormons who played at least one game in the majors last year and where they are at the moment. Tomorrow I’ll give a rundown of those who only played in the minors last year.