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A northern California native who spent his college days at New Mexico State University, outfield prospect Daniel Johnson cruised through two levels for the Washington Nationals in the summer of 2017, slashing .298/.356/.505/.861 in 130 games (549 plate appearances), with 29 doubles, 22 home runs, 22 stolen bases, 35 walks, and 100 strikeouts for Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac. After the season, the Nationals rewarded Johnson’s 20/20 campaign with a trip to the Arizona Fall League, where the outfield prospect played for the Mesa Solar Sox and slashed .217/.270/.290/.560 in 74 plate appearances, with three doubles, five stolen bases, five walks, and 11 strikeouts.

It was there at the AFL that Baseball Census saw the 22-year-old (DOB: July 11, 1995) Washington Nationals outfielder play in nearly a dozen different games with Mesa over a six-week period, and it’s from there that we’ve produced this full Daniel Johnson scouting report — which includes tool grades, game video, and projection notes — below.

Daniel Johnson Scouting Report, Washington Nationals — 2017

Dates observed in 2017: Arizona Fall League

Hit (55)
Good contact skills to all fields with compact swing and very good bat speed. Tracks pitches well with above-average pitch recognition; clear plan at the plate; capable of being a situational hitter. Can get reactionary, short and choppy at times when he cuts down and protects while behind in the count, but good hand/wrist strength with some feel for barrel manipulation leave him able to still produce line drive pop even when on the defensive. Aggressive; wants to do damage.

Power (45)
Surprising pop considering lack of imposing physical build (listed just 5’10”, 185 lbs.); lacks ideal physical projection, but strong hands and wrists with some room to add muscle onto frame in the near future. Bat speed an attribute here with ability to turn on hard stuff on inner half, though he’ll get too preoccupied by widening out stance and punching line drives to all fields to completely take advantage of full power profile right now. Nevertheless, undoubtedly possesses gap-to-gap power aided by speed, and he will hit his fair share of home runs as he builds a full approach off his surprising 2017 power campaign; outside shot to hit 20 homers a year in an everyday role.

Glove (50)
Quality defensive outfielder with speed working in his corner; can run down fly balls from any outfield spot and shows good reads off the bat with good instincts in game play. Aggressive on shallow balls coming in; hard-nosed defender with some range who could easily handle any/all three spots in the future. Has played all three in the past with apparent comfort; versatility will aid significantly in finding future role.

Arm (55)
Above-average arm with good carry and velocity; consistent in accuracy and execution from all spots, particularly profiling well in right and center with speed that aids value of arm strength. Strong arm and likes to use it. Sum total here makes him a potential everyday defensive fit in right field, but he must produce enough pop to truly fit there.

Speed (60)
Plus speed; 4.08 - 4.15 times to first base in several AFL looks; aggressive runner who will take his chances on the base paths. Some polish here; will read moves and make adjustments, but overaggressiveness can burn him on occasion. Nuance will come with development; raw tool certainly a plus and maybe even a bit better with value on defensive end.

Smart kid with professional, no-nonsense approach at the plate. Teachable/coachable sponge who seems to pick things up quickly. Mature with right mindset to navigate pro ball. Supremely athletic outfielder with surprising bat skills. Didn’t expect as much from him coming in to AFL, but he really grew on me the more he played with Mesa this fall. I’m likely more optimistic on him than most — and he needs to prove himself in full-season jump to upper minors — but for me, Daniel Johnson has a shot at being an above-average everyday outfielder at ceiling (55) with a solid platoon floor thanks to contact skills, bat speed, and defensive profile.

Daniel Johnson Scouting Report, Washington Nationals — 2017 Game Video

Daniel Johnson Scouting Report — Notes, Analysis & Projection

Somewhat undersized at first look and perhaps seen some as the ‘other’ Washington Nationals outfielder at AFL besides the exceptional, attention-getting Victor Robles, I must admit I didn’t think much of Daniel Johnson the first few times I saw him in Mesa. His athleticism and raw tools slowly won me over, though, and I think he’s got a shot to be an above-average everyday outfielder at ceiling if his offensive production continues as it did in 2017 thanks to ample tools across the board. He has a remarkably mature, no-nonsense personality that profiles well to navigate the ups and downs of professional baseball, and his speed, contact skills, and sneaky pop combine to give him a shot to be a legitimate offensive weapon in Washington a year or two from now.

Admittedly, I’m probably higher on Daniel Johnson than most — he’s certainly overshadowed by Robles, for one — and he may well fall short of my probably-too-optimistic projection here, but I think the tools, athleticism, and college-product polish all line up to give the Washington Nationals a legitimate above-average everyday outfielder (55 FV) at Johnson’s ceiling. If he falls short of that, a second-division regular job or a spot in a productive platoon situation are well within reach for the New Mexico State product. Barring another truly monster year in 2018 as he had this past summer, expect Daniel Johnson to spend the coming summer in the upper minors making adjustments against better pitchers, with his first taste of the big leagues coming at some point in 2019.

Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Athletic with contact skills that grew on me through AFL; higher on him than most, but has a shot to be an above-average everyday outfielder at ceiling thanks to tools and maturity (55)

MLB ETA: 2019

Did you like this Daniel Johnson scouting report? Get more prospects here:

Washington Nationals RHP Austen Williams — CLICK HERE

Washington Nationals OF Victor Robles — CLICK HERE

Washington Nationals RHP Kyle McGowin — CLICK HERE

Cleveland Indians RHP Luke Eubank — CLICK HERE

Seattle Mariners IF Joseph Rosa — CLICK HERE


More from our Daniel Johnson scouting report and other Washington Nationals prospects:

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Bobby DeMuro

Bobby DeMuro is the founder of Baseball Census, the author of We Is Blaze, (obviously) a fan of minor league baseball, and an unlikely expert on the animated classic TV show King Of The Hill. For more on Bobby and the personal, human side of this site, follow him on Twitter and Facebook: @BobbyDeMuro.

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