Tampa Bay Rays (62 days until pitchers and catchers report)
Has any prospect in the Rays system fallen farther, faster than Elliot Johnson? Many had Johnson pegged to be the Rays opening day second baseman in 2008 after a strong 2006 campaign in AA Montgomery. While his numbers were not earth-shattering, he did hit .272 with 41 extra-base hits and a .764 OPS. They don’t scream future all-star, but they were more than respectable for a second baseman in a franchise with no obvious second baseman at the major league level and no other second base prospects in the minors.

In 2007, Johnson was promoted to Durham and already on the 40-man roster, he seemed destined for a September call-up, or at least an invitation to the 2008 Spring Training with a shot at being the opening day second baseman. But rather than taking a step forward, he took a large step backwards, to the tune of the fifth worst OPS (.627) in all of AAA baseball. His batting average fell to .207 and he collected only 34 extra-base hits, despite playing in 21 more games than 2006.

Now many have written Johnson off and no longer consider him Johnson a part of the Rays future. In one season he went from cant-miss 2008 starter to candidate to be Designated for Assignment and removed from the 40-man roster. Most likely, both assertions are wrong, and Johnson falls somewhere in between. The best solution for Johnson, the Rays and Rays fans, is to chalk 2007 up to one bad season-long slump and enter 2008 as if it never happened. It is not too late for Johnson to reclaim his semi-elite status, but if his numbers don’t rebound to his 2006 totals, he is destined to be a journeyman minor leaguer.

Worst Minor League OPS’s in 2007 [Recondite Baseball]


  • Marc Lancaster is reporting that the deal with Cliff Floyd is not finalized, as had been reported yesterday on ESPN.com. The ESPN.com report stated that Floyd and the Rays had agreed to a 1-year, $3 million deal with up to $2 million in incentives. The Rays may be waiting for Floyd to pass a physical. [TBO]
  • The Rays avoided arbitration with Grant Balfour and Gary Glover, by signing both to 1-year contracts yesterday. Glover will make $1.075 million in base salary, that jumps to $1.1 million with 65 appearances (He made 67 appearances in 2007). Balfour will make $500,000 if he is on the 25-man roster, $150,000 if he is in the minors. We originally thought that Balfour was out of options and could refuse an assignment to the minors. However, if he was not on the Reds 40-man roster in 2006 (spent entirely in the minors), he may have an option left. [Yahoo! Sports]
  • The 40-man roster and payroll projections have been updated in the side-panel to reflect the new contracts.


  1. Clayton says:

    Don't know if you check out With Leather, but he's got some High School Musical/MLB mash up that BJ is a part of. No speaking role, but funny anyway: http://www.withleather.com/post.phtml?pk=4577

  2. Robert Rittner says:

    I was looking at your organizational chart-by the way, thanks for that-and do not see Emil Salem anywhere. Am I missing him or is there a reason he does not appear?

  3. The Professor says:

    C- thanks. i do read WL, but had glossed over that video.

    RR- he is on there. for some reason we have him listed on Hudson Valley's bench. usually when we make the depth chart we try to update at least once a week during the season and try to keep the day-to-day lineups as accurate as possible. Salem may have missed a few games just before the last update during the regular season.

    During the off-season, we just try to keep up with roster changes, and dont worry as much about the depth chart.

    we have a hard enough time predicting the Rays depth chart!

  4. Brother Bartles says:

    I am thrilled you exist ( a rays website that is ) you should start drumming up some support for moving to the nl......I'm serious.

  5. The Professor says:

    We try not to rant too much about realigning to the NL, even though it is something i would PROBABLY support.

    For one the geography of having a Southeast or South division just makes too much sense. Florida, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Houston, and??

    Not to mention, I personally prefer the NL style of play.

    BUT...for those that follow this site, know that we love to hate on the Yankees and Red Sox and to a lesser extent the O's. I would very much miss those rivalries.

    Not to mention, when the Rays finally do win, oh how sweet it will be, to have done it in the same division as two teams whose payrolls combined is greater than the GNP of many small countries.

  6. EricSanSan says:

    Elliot might be a bi-product of a down year plus a position switch at the major league level. Now that Aki is in the fold at second, and Evan is going to start at third base at some point, those two positions seem to be spoken for.

    That pushes Elliot down the chart, and combined with bad timing for an off year and he is now a non entity.

    He can change that quick though, but the roster spots and starting positions are disappearing fast. There's always room for talent, to keep or trade, so if his values rises you might see him moved.

    When I was making my list, you are right, I easily dismissed him. While he's not a Top 10 prospect (not in this system) he has some worth and his skill set is promising. Hopefully he can bounce back.


  7. Robert Rittner says:

    I am not sure that Iwamura is expected to be here after 2009. I think his contract runs out then, so it is possible that 2B will be open.

  8. Robert Rittner says:

    Thanks. I thought I read it carefully but missed his name.


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