For the Miami Marlins to eventually return to World Series glory, they must develop impactful players at several different positions. That includes a rock-solid double play combination. The 4-6-3 is one of the most common double plays in the game, and also the name of this brand new profile series. Over the next few weeks, I will be covering the top middle infield prospects in the Marlins farm system.
You’ll learn who these young players are, but also what to expect from them moving forward. The 4-6-3 will discuss their potential, where they fit in the future of the franchise, and draw some MLB comparisons.
Middle Infielders on Marlins Top 30 Prospects List
The focus this week is on Marlins 2018 second-round draft pick Osiris Johnson. A shortstop with double play bloodlines and more tools then Home Depot, who just so happens to be turning 18 today!
The Marlins went into this June’s draft with the mindset to draft up-the-middle guys and they succeeded in just that—CF Connor Scott in the first round, C Will Banfield with the comp pick at the end of the first, and then Osiris Johnson in the second round.
The son of Marcel Johnson, who played three years in the Mets organization, Osiris is also second cousins with longtime MLB SS and 2007 NL MVP Jimmy Rollins, He is a long, athletic shortstop with limitless potential. An alum of Encinal High (CA), just like former Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis, Johnson put together dominating numbers in high school. Raising his batting average nearly .100 each year, until his senior year where he hit .535 with 23 XBH and only 6 strikeouts in 26 games. He slashed .403/.452/.688 overall with 37 stolen bases on 43 attempts.
Johnson was committed to Cal State Fullerton, forgoing a college career to accept Miami’s $1.35 million signing bonus. Days after inking his deal, Johnson was assigned to the GCL Marlins along with the other top draft picks. He posted a line of .301/.333/.447 with 11 XBH and 7 stolen bases in 25 games. The organization felt the need to reward his production with a promotion to the Greensboro Grasshoppers in South Atlantic League, an extremely unorthodox move for a 17-year-old.
Adapting to more experienced competition was a challenge for Johnson. He had a .188 BA with an outrageous 38% K rate in 23 games with Greensboro, up from the respectable 17% before the promotion. The silver lining is it gave Osiris the chance to see the speed and talent in A ball.
Tools: Hit 45 | Power 50 | Run 50 | Arm 55 | Field 50 | Overall 50
A long 6-foot-1 frame is easy to project. He shows effortless power, as shown below hitting four straight bombs to dead-center field of unnecessarily big Marlins Park during a batting practice session.
Osiris Johnson is here working out with the team. He just hit 4 straight HRs to CF. One of the hit the sculpture. pic.twitter.com/GBC9B54oEh— Daniel Álvarez Montes (@DaniAlvarez_16) June 25, 2018
A hit tool that was a question mark coming into the draft is being worked on daily. After making tremendous strides throughout high school, work at the plate as professional is a whole different animal. Also, I feel he may have been unnecessarily rushed to the SAL when he wasn’t even 18 yet. Strikeouts could be an issue that can be overcome with his power. With his plus speed, I can see 20-steal potential, depending on how he fills out. An arm that’s close to being stronger than cousin Jimmy’s already will keep him on the left side of the infield for his entire career.
In my humble opinion, Johnson has the most raw potential in the entire Marlins system.
Fit Within the Farm System
The whole reason I started this series was to show the wild improvement the Marlins organization has made in strengthening the middle infielders in the system in the past few years. Osiris Johnson will be a huge part of that continuing improvement going forward. The 13th-rated prospect on the MLB Pipeline Top 30 Marlins prospect list, 2019 could be a year we see a huge leap on that list.
Playing a full season most likely for the Clinton LumberKings will be extremely beneficial. After getting his cup of coffee in A ball last year, this upcoming season will be a real chance to shine in a strong lineup that should feature several other top prospects (Connor Scott, Will Banfield, Chris Torres, and Thomas Jones). With the promotion of José Devers to Jupiter, Johnson should be able to play every day at SS, which will help him develop even more. .
Osiris could finish 2019 in the farm system’s top five, with the long-term possibility of cracking MLB’s Top 100 overall list.
This is always my favorite part of the profile. Let’s see if I find the career to make history repeat itself.
Low-End Projection: Tim Beckham
It’s pretty tough finding comparisons for a player who’s only played 48 professional games, but similarities and styles of play are always there. Which is why I start with Tim Beckham.
Johnson and Beckham, the first overall draft pick in 2008, looked similar coming out of the gate.
First 48 career games
Beckham: .246/.309/.350, 15 XBH, 6 SB, 15/44 BB/K (Age 18)
Johnson: .250/.276/.378, 16 XBH, 7 SB, 5/53 BB/K (Age 17)
Still without a full major league season under his belt, Beckham is a career .252 hitter and currently the starting shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles. This type of projection for Johnson could happen if he abandons trying to develop his swing and decides to go for broke—overcompensating for the big fly, resulting in a high strikeout rate and low on-base. Beckham has been used in a utility role around the infield due to his versatility and lack of hit tool. Sounds familiar to Johnson, but a narrative he can easily change.
Best Bet Projection: Ian Desmond
It’s hard to remember, but Ian Desmond a part of the last Montreal Expos draft class in 2004. Winning three straight NL Silver Slugger awards from 2012-2014, along with his first All-Star appearance in 2012, he was the epitome of power/speed combo at shortstop.
Overall, Desmond is slashing .264/.315./.423 over his nine-year career. Pair that with 161 home runs and 178 stolen bases with a 23.5% strikeout rate and you have a respectable MLB career. That is the mold I could see Johnson staying on, starring at shortstop for an extended period, then moving to third base or a corner outfield position in his 30s.
There’s a opportunity for Johnson to achieve even more, though.
Shoot for the Moon: Hanley Ramírez
Calling Hanley and Osiris the same player would be outlandish. I don’t see Johnson ever stealing 50 bases in a year, let alone twice.
I do see him having the ability to be most electrifying player on the field like Hanley was though. It’s the skill set that what most shortstops dream of: being able to throw someone out from deep in the hole and hit a moonshot at the plate.
Hanley was the best SS in the game at one point. To this day, he remains the best infielder the Marlins have ever had. A career K% of 17.2, hitting .290/.361/.487 over a 13-year career is Osiris Johnson at peak potential.
Johnson has the frame to project into someone who can hit for effortless power without diminishing his plus speed tool. His approach is very raw for now, but can be polished over time. To be the type of player Ramírez was will require a tremendous plate discipline increase in the coming years, but that needs to be the ceiling Johnson strives for.
Well, there you have it, the second edition of The 4-6-3 is in the books. Osiris Johnson, one of the most interesting prospects in the organization, fits perfectly in the process the Marlins are undertaking.
Stay tuned for the next segment where we will be profiling Jupiter Hammerheads second baseman Riley Mahan.
Once again, thanks for reading with me!