As you might notice, The GM’s Perspective reports on the Independent Leagues quite often, usually more than the mainstream MLB or MiLB news. There are a number of reasons for this.

As a former Frontier League player I enjoy reporting on the journeys of the underdogs. Compared to mainstream media, hundreds of players go unnoticed, and deserve their time in the spotlight. The next feel-good story might be right under our noses (Daniel Nava, Golden Baseball League).

Indy reporting is often more entertaining and a little “off the wall.”

We do live in a small world and connections in a sports world are closer than you might think. I say this because my college and professional roots have once again appeared in the mainstream media, an outlet that sometimes lets potential stars go unnoticed. Unnoticed not by choice, odds are due to the overwhelming amount of players, data and statistical analysis that the baseball community has to sift through to find the next “chosen one.”

For the above-mentioned reasons, I have focused on a recent story published on the Frontier League website. Matty Johnson, formerly of Bellevue University, the same Bellevue University that gave me fits while attending York College, has had his contract purchased by the Boston Red Sox.

In Johnson’s two years at Bellevue, his numbers were very, very impressive: .429 career average, 83 career games, 142 hits, 18 doubles, nine triples and two home runs. These numbers are exceptional and so are his 43 stolen bases in 57 attempts.

His skills are obvious, and they seamlessly translated into success during his first professional season in Gateway. Johnson was named Grizzlies Rookie of the Year (.313 average, six doubles, three triples, 19 RBI and 24 stolen bases).

According to Gateway manager Phil Warren, the Red Sox are indeed getting an exciting player and one who, if given the opportunity, will fulfill all of his potential.

“Matty Johnson is an electric player,” stated Grizzlies manager Phil Warren. “He is exciting to watch, fun to manage, and a great teammate. We owe a lot of our 2010 late season surge to him and the way he played in the field and at the plate. Matty is young and plays the game aggressively. I am very proud of him and excited that he is getting an opportunity with the Boston Red Sox. I hope he gets ample time to develop and shine in their system. I look forward to the day that we all get to watch Matty Johnson play as a fully developed player.”

When it comes down to it, MLB clubs select players for many specific reasons and after breaking down Johnson’s numbers, he appears to be an ideal candidate for many. Yet at 5’7″ and 170 pounds his slight build is what many teams question, along with his bat.

Johnson does have the speed that makes him one of the best at his position, obviously a positive, but with these two glaring negatives (size and power) the odds are definitely stacked against him.

With that said, one of the newest members of the Red Sox, Daniel Nava, was in the exact same position Johnson was—a standout in college and a standout in the independents (Golden Baseball League). The glaring difference between the two: Nava has all the tools Johnson has, but with a better bat, and a beefed up resume that contains GBL MVP, and a career .345 batting average in three different minor league classes.

Only time will tell if the Red Sox made a good choice, but another player chosen with a small stature turned out to be pretty good (hint, he plays second base).

This article can be found on The GM’s Perspective

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