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2022 Draft Preview: Termarr Johnson - 2B

Have bat, will travel.

Age: 18 (11 June 2004)
Height: 5’10”*
Weight: 175 lbs.
B/T: L/R
School: Mays HS (GA)
Commitment: Arizona State University

Scouting Grades

Position: Second Base
Hit: 70 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 60

The Skinny

There may be no more polarizing prospect in this year’s draft than Termarr Johnson. Johnson is generously listed as 5’ 10”. The reality is, he is likely 5’7” or 5’ 8”. He is also primarily a second baseman. Though he has played plenty of short as a prep circuit star, neither his glove work nor his arm rate well enough to stick at short once he turns pro, or even playing for the Sun Devils. This combination of height and likely defensive home create something of a conundrum. Of 570 top-10 picks, only 20 (3.5%) have been position players who are 5-foot-10 or shorter. Now, there are some great names in that group. That group also fails to include the likes of Ozzie Albies, Jose Ramirez, and Jose Altuve, players whose success has paved the way for the hype that has been heaped upon Johnson. Still, despite the grans success of those players and Johnson’s tool rating, the size profile and his defensive limitations have some talent evaluators ranking him as barely a top-10 talent.

Then there is the other side of the coin - the side that has Johnson remaining a viable 1:1 candidate.

Johnson likely possesses the best all-around bat in this draft, even better than the polished bat of Brooks Lee. In fact, Johnson possesses one of the best prep bats to hit the draft in over a decade. Have no illusions, Johnson’s bat is special. Some scouts actually have his hit tool at 80. He barrels the ball extremely well and features truly elite bat speed. Johnson has uncommon bat control and pitch recognition for a kid his age. He loads up well and drives from his legs but keeps his hands back which allows him to manage off-speed stuff as well as 90+ fastballs. During the most recent season, Johnson readily handled pitches in the mid-90s. Despite his size, Johnson plays much as a much bigger player, thanks largely to his ability to get the most out of his very strong lower half. When Johnson was 17 years old, he won the Home Run Derby at Coors Field blasting six shots measured at 450+ feet. The 60-grade power is for real.

Defensively speaking, Johnson is not going to stick at short in pro ball, no matter what his handlers try to make others think. He simply doesn’t have the arm strength for playing the position full-time. As far as his glove goes, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Receiving the ball, he is rather fluid. He does a great job getting low on grounders and corralling them. His transfer is still a work in progress, something which has exposed him a bit at short, as he does not have the cannon for an arm to make up for his slower transfer. He also tends to get happy feet when he is making longer throws. Overall, his footwork in general, like his transfer, is still a work in progress. However, a slide across the diamond gives him a plus arm for his position and the lack of long throws to first should help him with his footwork. He makes the pivot at second just fine, from both sides, which further helps sell him as a second baseman. The other potential home for Johnson is left field. While he has not played much in the outfield, he has enough athleticism to play a corner and his bat certainly profiles for corner outfield work. The biggest issue with moving him to left is his height. As viewers of the 2022 Diamondbacks have seen, Daulton Varsho has had his share of fielding challenges in the outfield that were caused by his lack of height. Varsho is a superior defensive talent to Johnson and, despite not being as tall as listed, is still taller (and faster by a good margin) than Johnson. All things considered, the signs are pointing to Johnson as a second baseman in the pro ranks.

Comps: A common description for Johnson is that he has the eye and plate discipline of Wade Boggs with the bat barrel to ball skills of Vladimir Guerrero. This is hyperbole, but it does still rather accurately describe what the skillset at the plate at least looks like. A common comp for Johnson is José Altuve. This is not a terrible comp in that Johnson’s bat profiles very similarly. Then there is the obvious height comp and position comp. However, Altuve is a much faster, more athletic player with considerable skills beyond Johnson once away from the plate. A more fair comp would be that Johnson profiles similar to Yankees-era Robinson Canó. The offensive and defensive profiles are very similar as is their athleticism, despite Canó’s obvious size advantage

Summation: Johnson is the premier hitting prospect of the 2022 class. However, it is unlikely he is taken with either of the first two picks (unless Baltimore tries to get ticksy). If he is selected, he should be a fast riser, assuming he picks up where he left off. His ascension will only be limited by how quickly he adapts his bat. He will not command full slot if he is selected, though he could easily ask for a bonus in the $6.5-7 million range. If he happens to slide beyond the 5-7 range, expect him to land in Tempe, then be back for the 2025 draft (when hopefully the Diamondbacks will be nowhere near his draft position).