Johnson expected to go in first 10 rounds of draft

Because I haven’t posted much recently…for tomorrow’s paper:

By the time Micah Johnson returned to the field after early-season elbow surgery, he had already long since lost any opportunity of living up to his preseason hype.

Position players who appear in 24 of their team’s 60 games don’t tend to be named All-Americans. Of course, players that hit .225 don’t tend to end that sort of honor anyway, so even in his short time, the Indiana second baseman’s production didn’t project to what would’ve been expected for a preseason All-American.

But at least based on projections, Major League Baseball scouts had already seen enough from Johnson’s first two seasons at IU to know that he could produce. They just wanted to make sure he could throw again. Based on his conversations with scouts, Johnson said, they are satisfied enough to give the impression that he will be taken in the first 10 rounds of the draft, which began with the first round Monday night. Several baseball draft sites including Baseball America also suggest he will go in the Top 10 rounds.

Rounds 2-15 are today and rounds 16-40 will be held on Wednesday.

“I’ve heard anywhere from the second to the eighth round,” Johnson said. “We’ll see. … Mainly, I had to show that I was healthy. Most of the people looking at me have seen me for two years now. I had a couple of draft workouts and really did well at those. They just wanted to see if I was healthy and could still play.”

Major League teams held workouts for prospective draft candidates last week, though they mostly focused on players whose teams were not part of the first round of the NCAA tournament. Johnson said he worked out with the Seattle Mariners on May 28-29, the Cincinnati Reds on May 31, the Chicago White Sox on June 1 and the Cubs on June 2.
In those workouts, Johnson said he believed he showed that his right elbow is even stronger than it was last season. He returned to Bloomington from the Cape Cod League last summer with soreness in the elbow and it never really healed. Johnson elected to have surgery on it in early March after he started 3-for-21 as a designated hitter while not playing on defense.

IU coach Tracy Smith said at the time that it might be season-ending, but Johnson returned to the field on May 5 for the Nebraska series. In his last 15 games he was 15-for-59 (.254) with eight runs and eight RBIs. He was solid defensively, though, committing just two errors in 82 chances.
Johnson had hit .312 as a freshman and .335 as a sophomore, stealing 19 bases and leading the team in runs with 43 last season, so the modest production wasn’t enough to surrender the interest he’d already generated.

Johnson still has a fourth year of eligibility remaining and he could return for his senior season if he wants, but he said he’d have to slip for that to happen.

“My family and I have decided that if I go in the Top 10 rounds, I have to give it a shot,” Johnson said. “Indiana has everybody coming back, so returning for my senior year wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but if I go that high I have to take a chance at it. If I go lower than that, it might lean toward me coming back.”

There’s also a good possibility that senior right-hander Chad Martin will be taken in the draft. After starting the season 0-3 with a 9.00 earned run average that led to a move to the bullpen, the 6-foot-7, 240-pound right-hander got his starting job back on April 22 against Georgia Southern and finished strong to post a 2-3 record and 4.79 earned run average.