At the time of acquiring Micah Johnson, Frankie Montas and Trayce Thompson from the Chicago White Sox in a three-team trade last December, the trio of prospects figured to have a puncher’s chance at making an impact with the Los Angeles Dodgers this season.
Of the three, Montas, a hard-throwing right-hander, was arguably the safest bet to reach the Majors in 2016. Johnson wasn’t far behind, though Thompson faced an uphill battle given the Dodgers’ depth in the outfield.
Fast forward nearly three months later, and Montas is sidelined after undergoing rib resection surgery, while Johnson and Thompson are looking to make a name for themselves during Spring Training.
When the Dodgers traded for Johnson, only Kiké Hernandez and Chase Utley were ahead of him on the depth chart at second base. The three were projected to be part of the picture at second in mid-December.
However, when Los Angeles surprisingly re-signed Howie Kendrick to a two-year, $20 million contract last month, the domino effect seemingly knocked Johnson out of contention.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts nonetheless is intrigued by the skill set Johnson brings, most notably his speed, according to ESPN’s Doug Padilla:
“Micah is a dynamic player, he’s an interesting player,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He is continuing to work on the defense and he’s taking balls in center field. He can run. He has that dynamic speed that we really don’t have, so a lot of times young players start to get ahead of themselves. We’ve talked about how it’s just a matter of him performing.”
Johnson began last season as the starting second baseman for the White Sox. Amid questions about his defense, he was sent down to Triple-A Charlotte on May 12. He returned to the Majors during the final month of the regular season.
In 36 games with the White Sox, Johnson batted .230/.306/.270 with four doubles. He did the majority of his base stealing in Triple-A, where the speedster swiped 28 bags in 35 attempts.
Johnson was ranked a top-10 prospect at second base by MLB.com. He became the first Dodger to play all nine innings in single game this spring on Monday, going 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored in a win over the Chicago Cubs.