Johnson led the Western Athletic Conference in hitting (.382), homers (12) and steals (29) while winning player of the year honors in 2016, when he went in the fifth round to the Nationals and became the highest-drafted New Mexico State player in a decade. He put up 22 homers and 22 steals in his first full pro season but was limited by a broken hamate in his right hand during this second. Acquired along with two other prospects in exchange for Yan Gomes in November 2018, he rebounded to bat .290/.361/.507 between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
Johnson can do a little bit of everything offensively, giving him a chance to become an everyday player if he can continue to improve against southpaws. His bat speed and strength give him power to all fields from the left side of the plate, and he was more willing to use the entire field and work counts in 2019 than he had been previously. He also has plus speed and can use it to steal bases.
Though Johnson is at least an average defender in center field, he has spent most of his pro career in right. He has plus-plus arm strength and has recorded 25 assists in 198 career games in right field. Cleveland needs some lefty-hitting corner-outfield options, so he's in position to get big league at-bats in 2020.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 70 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
The 2016 Western Athletic Conference player of the year, Johnson led the circuit in batting (.382), homers (12) and steals (29) for New Mexico State before the Nationals drafted him in the fifth round. He had a strong first full pro season with 22 homers and as many steals between two Class A levels but slumped in 2018, when he was hampered by a broken hamate in his right hand. The Indians acquired him in November along with infielder Andruw Monasterio and right-hander Jefry Rodriguez when they shipped Yan Gomes to Washington.
Johnson is a power-over-hit guy, with his bat speed and strength giving him above-average raw pop from the left side of the plate. He'll need to temper his aggressive approach in order to hit for average, and he has yet to prove he can handle left-handers well enough to be more than a platoon player. He knows how to use his plus speed to steal and take extra bases.
Johnson runs well enough to play center field but has spent the majority of his career in right. That's in large part because he has plus-plus arm strength that helped him rack up 11 assists in just 92 games last year. If he can't hit consistently enough to make it as a regular, his tools would make him a dynamic fourth outfielder.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Arm: 65 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
After transferring from Northeast Oklahoma A&M to New Mexico State, Johnson garnered Western Athletic Conference player of the year honors after he paced the circuit in average (.382), home runs (12) and stolen bases (29) in his second year with the Aggies. The Nationals, intrigued by Johnson's loud tools and breakout performance, gave him $325,000 as their fifth-round pick in the 2016 Draft. Those tools translated to eye-opening production in Johnson's first full season, as he produced a .298 average with 22 home runs and 22 steals between the Class A and Class A Advanced levels before gaining additional experience in the Arizona Fall League. Advancing to Double-A in 2018, Johnson didn't hit for much power but more than held his own in the Eastern League despite missing nearly six weeks with a broken hamate bone in his hand. After a second straight year playing in the AFL, Johnson was shipped off to the Indians for catcher Yan Gomes in late November.
Johnson's physical strength and lightning-quick bat speed help him to generate plus raw power from the left side of the plate, and he surprised with his ability to get to it consistently during games in 2017. Improved plate discipline and pitch recognition, along with better feel for using the entire field, give Johnson a chance to hit for average, but he will always have some swing-and-miss to his game and will need figure out left-handed pitching. Johnson also knows how to impact games on the basepaths with his plus speed, though his basestealing technique leaves something to be desired.
The Nationals were pleased with Johnson's defensive strides in 2017 and believe he has a non-zero chance of sticking in center field. He's also seen considerable playing time in right field, and some evaluators think that will be his long-term home on account of his cannon arm. Johnson could develop into a dynamic outfielder who contributes in all facets of the game if his development goes as hoped, while his power-speed combo portends a solid big league floor.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 45 | Run: 70 | Arm: 65 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
Johnson began his college career at Northeast Oklahoma A&M before transferring to New Mexico State, where he paced the Western Athletic Conference in average (.382), home runs (12) and stolen bases (29) en route to WAC Player of the Year honors in his second year with the Aggies. Intrigued by his combination of tools and performance, the Nationals gave Johnson $325,000 after selecting him in the fifth round of the 2016 Draft. He's firmly put himself on the radar in his first full season, showing impressive power along as well as a better-than-expected feel for the game while playing in the Class A South Atlantic League.
Johnson fits the bill of a raw-but-toolsy college player, standing out for his elite speed and arm strength, as well as explosive athleticism that could help him stick in center field long term. He's less advanced at the plate, where he employs an aggressive approach and shows some feel for finding the barrel. He generates impressive raw power through a combination of physical strength and lightning-quick bat speed.
Though his tools are loud, Johnson will need time to refine his overall baseball skills on both sides of the ball. If it all comes together, he could develop into a dynamic outfielder capable of impacting games in several ways.