Johnson makes Indians’ Opening Day roster


LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – Daniel Johnson received the phone call he has been waiting for since being drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft — he’s headed to the show.

The former New Mexico State University (NMSU) outfielder has been recalled and added to the Cleveland Indians’ Opening Day roster on Friday, becoming the fifth Aggie in program history to reach the big leagues.

Johnson joins Fernando Ramsey, Mark Acre, Jason Rakers, and Tyler Sturdevant on the all-time list of NMSU MLB representatives. He is the first Aggie position player to earn a spot on an MLB roster since Ramsey did so in 1992. 

The Vallejo, California, native was selected by the Washington Nationals in 2016 before being traded to the Indians in 2018. He came into spring training in February more confident in his abilities as a player.

“Last year, I got traded over here so I didn’t really know anybody. Now that I know all the coaches, trainers, and everyone — it’s easier to come in and be comfortable,” said Johnson in March. “I know where everything is and I’m able to focus on baseball at this point. I don’t have to worry about who to talk to about certain things and where to go. It makes it a lot easier having one under your belt coming into the next year.”

Johnson had a tremendous collegiate career at NMSU. He was the the 2016 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Player of the Year, finishing that year’s campaign ranked fourth nationally in hits (94) and fifth in runs scored (67). Johnson ranked 16th nationally in stolen bases (29), 32nd in batting average (.382), and 40th in slugging percentage (.630) — all while leading the WAC in batting average, hits, home runs, stolen bases, and runs scored. He was named an American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Third Team All-American.

Ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the Indians’ minor-league system, Johnson was initially assigned to the team’s alternate training site before he was recalled on Friday. He is not in the starting lineup against the Kansas City Royals, but could make his MLB debut off the bench.

Johnson will wear No. 23 in an Indians uniform.

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