KJ had an odd rookie season. He started off destroying the International League and was called up and inserted into the lineup when the Mondesi Nightmare finally ended. He slumps, he stars, he slumps, he gets nailed to the bench. At the end of play, he wound up with a wholly unsatisfying .241/.334/.397 line. He was hitless in his first five games, then got a single, then was hitless the next six games. All along, he was drawing walks; after five games, Johnson’s OBP was .250. Played well in late June and early July, peaking at .268/.388/.465. Then he went into another slump, and by the time he came out of it Francoeur was up. Played well in August (his best month, .282/.378/.423) but Langerhans was playing better, particularly defensively, and took his AB. He had only 17 AB in September, eight of them after the Braves clinched, and was limited to pinch-hit duty in the playoffs.
He’s just an odd player. He’s very selective as a hitter, or at least walks a whole lot. At the same time, he had trouble with some strikes and simply wasn’t able to drive them. A lefthanded hitter who runs well, but grounded into 11 double plays. I thought he actually looked best very early on, when he was slumping. He made very good contact (he only struck out twice in his first twelve games), hit some balls hard, was drawing a ton of walks. He just wasn’t lucky at all. After that, he got more aggressive, but at times looked overmatched. I’ll be honest. I have no idea where this is going. He could be a minor star, he could be a solid regular, he could wash completely out of the game. I think that if he plays every day he can match that August line, maybe adding more power as time goes on, peaking at .300/.420/.500 for a couple of years. Bobby Abreu Lite.
He’s an odd defensive player too. Started out as a shortstop, moved to the outfield because he was an even worse fielder than Wilson Betemit. Had fairly spectacular defensive stats in left field, but I tend to think that’s some sort of glitch. He looked pretty bad at times but I don’t think he’s a bad defender overall. Certainly he’s better than Chipper. Throws okay for a left fielder, but probably not good enough for right. He got into some games at short and third for Richmond but was used exclusively in left in Atlanta… Weird baserunner as well, stolen base stats are all over the place. Last season he was 7-8 in Richmond and 2-3 in Atlanta. But in 2004 he was 9-18 in Greenville, coming off of a 10-13 season there the year before. In 2002 he was 12-27 in Myrtle Beach, but in 2001 was 25-31 in Macon. I don’t get it.
What was KJ’s prospect status before 2005?
I’ll fix the double post… All I wrote about him before the season was:
Brad had him the tenth-best prospect in the organization.
From Baseball America (12/21/04):
Background: A supplemental first-round pick in 2000, Johnson stalled in 2002-03 but started to get going again last season when he repeated Double-A. He also moved from shortstop to the outfield with relative ease, seeing time at all three spots and playing primarily in left field.
Strengths: Johnson has solid all-around tools and a hard-nosed, fearless approach. He spread his stance at the plate and regained the power he showed three years earlier in low Class A. As an outfielder, he displayed a plus arm along with good speed and range.
Weaknesses: Johnson is still learning to trust himself. Once he reacts instead of thinking about every move, he’ll have a better chance to blossom. He also has to make more consistent contact at the plate and work on the nuances of outfield play.
The Future: It?s easy to forget how young Johnson is. Another dash of maturation could take his game to the next level. The Braves have slated Johnson for Triple-A in 2005 and continue to count on him as a long-term contributor in the majors.
One of my “sources” tells me that Kelly’s strange benching at the end of 2005 (.800 OPS in August before disappearing until late September) was an injury that’s now been fixed. So, it’s not that Bobby was unhappy with him. I guess that’s why they got Hollandsworthless.
I was very impressed with Kelly last year. I expect a good 2006. PrOPS actually put him slightly above Francoeur for ’05 and ’06.
I wonder why we haven’t moved Betemit to left, or will we try him out there some in ST? Anyone know?
JC, there wasn’t even any doubt that Bobby liked him. I think Bobby has a man crush on Kelly. Kelly had his moments last year, but he did cost us a few games.
KJ is indeed a very interesting case. You are right Mac, his minor league stats are all over the place. However, his “bad” years in the minor are really not that bad. I see him as a kid who has all the skills to do everything well, but is having a hard time to put everything together. I predict KJ to be a very good player with more experience, may possibly be a left-handed version of Marcus: high OBP, decent power, lots of doubles with 10 to 20 SBs per year.
In 2002, KJ was the #47 prospect in all of bball by BA.
I thought KJ had bone chip in his left elbow or something at the end of last season?
Looks like the US is letting Cuba into the World Baseball Classic after all.
For one thing, there’s no reason to think that Betemit will outperform Langerhans and Johnson. Why muddy the waters by adding another second-year player to that mix?
For another, as I mentioned in the infield comments, the Braves don’t have another passable reserve shortstop.
i know we have discussed this before, but what would be the holdup in trying betemit at 1st? he seems to hit better than laroche. would it be that big of an adjustment defensively? i mean, according to everyone, his defense at his normal position sucks anyway. at least we could showcase his offensive talent for a late season trade, or he could blossom and we could keep him.
i dont think betemit in the outfield would be an upgrade.
I would like to see Wilson be able to play all of the infield positions and left. His value would increase and he would get more at bats.
I’m with Mac. Betemit has much more value as an infielder(SS/3B/2B) in that order. We have 4 outfielders that are better options than Betemit in the outfield(AJ/Frenchy/KJ/Langerhans) and at 1B I’d like to see the Braves give Thorman/Jurries a shot before moving Betemit over there.
We absolutely need to keep Betemit where he is. Right now our 2B/SS/3B situation is absolutely set in stone — everyone’s exactly where they need to be. Don’t mess with it — Betemit will get playing time enough to figure out whether he’s Bill Madlock or Mark DeRosa.
It would be great to see who comes out with the LF job between Langerhans/Johnson during Spring Training. There isn’t much sense in trading one of the two until you have a better idea of who’ll be the starter in ’06, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we kept them both, since no one is really sure what either would fetch in a trade.
Who would everyone rather see as the 4th OF, loser between KJ/Langerhans or Matt Diaz? I choose the former.
Langerhans will actually back up in center and right, I’m sure, with the others playing left when they come in.
JC, thanks for the inside info. I had heard innuendo that he was dinged up but nothing you could rely on. I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t playing after his good August either.
If his August line is the norm and not an outlier he is a pretty damn good ball player.
All this talk about Betemit as a starting corner OF or infielder has me perplexed. The guy hits good for a middle infielder not a place where you want some power.
If Langerhans can defy the odds and hit closer to his Richmond outlier year and Johnson needs a place to play and LaRoche doesn’t improve his OBP, what about KJ at first? Shoot he used to be a ss/3b.
For some reason I really like KJ. I think/hope that he is going to be a championship caliber ballplayer. The competition for LF is going to be one of the more interesting story lines this spring.
Mac, not sure who you mean when you say “the others.”
I think KJ may be the odd man out. Matt Diaz can play first and left whilt Langerhans can play all three out field possitions. KJ cna only play left and I don’t think we are going to carry 5 outfielders.
hw: if Franc gets a day off, Johnson/Diaz will play LF, Andruw CF, Langerhans RF.
I’m not sure Johnson even has options left, and even if he did who’s going to take his place? You have the two first basemen you don’t need and a bunch of utility infielders who couldn’t hit their way out of a wet paper bag.
I think Diaz is the LaRoche caddy now that Julio has moved on, so KJ and Langerhans will both fit on the team easily.
Actually, I remember hearing Pete and Skip suggesting that Johnson was “running funny” and speculating about a hip injury. Does that jive with what you’ve heard?
Anyone have any speculation about what kind of looks Thorman/Jurries will get during spring training?
I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but my impression was that Langerhans played much better in the second half. If this is true, maybe he just needed some time to acclimate to MLB.
Mac, I think that is why we will trad KJ for pitching or a first baseman. Orr can also play left.
So with the Braves easily having 6 starters (Smoltz Hudson Thomson Sosa Ramirez Davies) not counting up and coming rookies James and Lerew, which 5 stay in the rotation, who goes to the bullpen, and who (if anyone), is dealt? Obviously Smoltz and Hudson are locks but after that any predictions on what things will look like on opening day?
With all the injuries to the rotation last year you couldn’t blame them for wanting to have a solid pitcher or two waiting in the wings (minors or bullpen) in order to plug the holes but they certainly seem to have a surplus which, looking around the majors, is a good problem to have.
Pitchers starting next week.
I think Sosa goes back to bullpen/swingman status, and I have high hopes that some people around here will realize that Betemit can not hit enough to be a starter.
That’s fine… sorry for jumping the gun. I’m just really curious about what will happen there.
I think Sosa will be the number three guy with Thomson and HoRam filling the rest out. We need another lefty.
Cal Ripken Jr. will be in Atlanta at Georgia Tech next Saturday the 28th to put on a coaching clinic. Call 800-486-0850 to get signed up!
I said it at the end of the season, and I will stick by my prediction – I still think Kelly Johnson is getting traded before opening day. Nothing but a gut feeling.