The Cleveland Indians outfield competition lost another member this week.
Left field is secure with Eddie Rosario holding down the job.
Center field remains a competition between Amed Rosario, Bradley Zimmer, and Oscar Mercado.
Right field seemed like a place where a notable prospect could maybe earn a job or even a backup role.
Daniel Johnson was one player in the mix and seemed like he could be a favorite given his status as a top prospect in the system.
But alas, he was removed from the conversation Friday.
The Indians informed Daniel Johnson this morning he wouldn't be making the Opening Day roster. He'll go to the alternate site/minors and play all three outfield spots.
Francona: "He was very disappointed, and we knew that was going to be the case."
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) March 19, 2021
Daniel Johnson’s 2021 Outlook
This is a bummer for Johnson and a slight surprise.
He is ranked as the No. 21 overall prospect in the organization and will turn 26 years old in July.
Johnson appeared in five games with the team in 2020 and was immediately fighting for a job when came began in February.
His problem may just be being lost in the shuffle of the crowded outfield.
The one thing to note from Zack Meisel’s tweet is that Johnson is now going to play all three outfield positions in the minors and at the team’s alternate site.
So why can’t he get reps in center field instead of Amed Rosario?
Still perplexed if the #Indians are willing to give Amed Rosario a shot in CF why do they not feel OF prospect Daniel Johnson can handle the position or get the same opportunity? Johnson has 148 games played in the minors in center including 45 w/ AAA Columbus in 2019.
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) March 13, 2021
Getting time in center field could end up being his best chance at playing time if none of the three current options are looking great.
Right field still may be tough to break into with Josh Naylor and Jordan Luplow fighting for time.
Johnson had a solid spring, batting .368 and even launching two home runs.
He did was he could do and it was not enough to win a job.
The 25-year-old should be the first in line for a promotion in 2021.
Johnson’s Career so Far
Johnson joined the organization late in 2018 as part of the Yan Gomes trade with the Washington Nationals.
He split time in 2019 between Akron and Columbus before spending time at the alternate site and with the Indians during the shortened 2020 campaign.
The outfielder showed up as a promising prospect and did post a .868 OPS in 2019 at the two levels.
Now it is all about just being given a chance.
The Indians clearly have to make some big decisions on players like Luplow, Mercado, Zimmer, Jake Bauers, and Amed Rosario.
There are no questions, at least right now, about whether Johnson will be released this season.
The other players listed above have had plenty of MLB experience and a few may be moved on from before Opening Day.
Johnson is still younger than both Zimmer and Mercado and is next in line if both can’t nail down the job in center.
Getting Johnson time at the position at the alternate site could prepare him to take over the job in May or June if an upgrade is needed.
Demotions are never fun, however, Johnson should get his chance at some point this season.
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