E.A. Sports Today

Long on the move

Former Jacksonville player being rewarded for strong first half with promotion to Reds’ Double-A affiliate

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Shed Long was a busy man Wednesday — a busy man who hadn’t had much sleep.

It was hard enough to sleep having an early game Wednesday morning after a nearly four-hour game the night before, but the prospect of some career-changing news coming down at any minute contributed to his restlessness.

That news anticipated by many was delivered immediately after Daytona Tortugas’ 4-2 loss to the St. Lucie Mets. Long, a second baseman from Jacksonville, and two of his Reds’ infielders of the future — third baseman Nick Senzel and first basman Gavin LaValley — were being promoted to Double-A Pensacola for the second half of the Southern League season.


That meant Long had to get his affairs in order in time to be on a plane at 7:30 Thursday morning so he could meet the Blue Wahoos in Chattanooga for the start of a five-game series against the Lookouts.

“I’ve been busy packing,” Long said Wednesday night. “I kind of figured it would be that way because I’m kind of OCD about the way I pack things and I want things done a certain way. Getting things done, it takes me a while – a very long while.”

Not as long as getting to this level where players go from being developing prospects to developing a plan to reach the big leagues. Long is in his fifth minor-league season, but he’s only 21, which is a little young for the average Double-A player. But he’s become an absolute terror at the plate since moving from behind it to second base and working with the likes of Reds great Barry Larkin.

In 100 games with the Tortugas over the past two seasons Long hit .315 with 17 homers and 66 RBIs. In 62 games this year he was hitting .312 (fourth in the league) with 13 homers (third), 16 doubles and 36 RBIs (T-6). He had two hits in Saturday’s Florida State League All-Star Game and was the FSL Player of the Month for May.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “Now I’m in Double-A, I’m basically one call away from the big leagues. It’s like the light is so far away but now it’s so close. I have a good one or two months and then maybe I might get a call I’m going to the big leagues.

“Another thing that’s exciting is it just shows all my work I’ve done in the offseason has paid off. I’m being rewarded for all the work I put in and the success I’m having. I hope to continue having the same success.”

Long went 0-for-4 in his final game with the Tortugas Wednesday, but had something happen to him early in the game he had never experienced before and it was the ultimate sign of respect for a hitter.

He came to the plate with two outs in the third inning of a scoreless game and runners on second and third and St. Lucie starter Nabil Crismatt intentionally walked him to load the bases. The strategy worked for the Mets as the next batter grounded to short for the final out to keep the game scoreless.

“That’s something I have not seen happen my whole minor-league career, actually since I’ve been alive,” he said. “Maybe with Barry Bonds … That just shows the respect people have for me, how others think of me. It kind of made me mad in a sense, but at the same time I understand. That’s part of (the game).”

As anticipated as the midseason promotion was by observers, Long said he didn’t know what was going to happen when the FSL first half ended. He’s reached a point in his career where the Reds have to make a decision about his future in the organization, but even though he’s been elevated, his focus remains on controlling the moment and not worrying about how close (or far) the major leagues are to him.

“I really didn’t know what was going to happen, and I tried not to worry about it,” he said. “They talked about our infield here as being the future, our infield being the next Reds infield that’s going to be full of all-stars. I didn’t know if they wanted us to stay here and win, win, win or call us up when they thought it was time to be called up.

“The thing about going up is there are going to be guys who are more experienced and guys who are going to be better than the guys who are here. It’ll be a game of adjustments, guys are going to do things different, do things better. I’ve got to adjust right away. The biggest thing is we’re still playing baseball. I’ll just try to stay within myself and be myself and not try to be someone I’m not.”

Here is a statistical look at the players from in and around Calhoun County playing pro baseball this summer:

[table id=47 /]
Stats through June 21

Cover photo by Luke Mauro/Daytona Tortugas

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