A college baseball player can transform the arc of their career in one single season. All they have to do is to maximize one skill that they do well and capitalize on that talent. This is what Jonathon Long did this spring by hitting 15 home runs for Long Beach State in a park that is very similar to Myrtle Beach in that it doesn’t get a lot of home runs.

Basic Info

Age – 21
Bats – Right
Throws – Right
Height – 6-foot-1
Weight – 215
From Orange, California
Ninth round pick 2023 Draft

Let’s start off with that Long’s selection was a surprise. He was not recruited to come to Long Beach State. He walked on. In fact, he made 26 starts at third base as a freshman before a leg injury ended his season. He hit .341 with five homers and 16 RBIs in his brief time as a freshman.

As a sophomore, Long played a full season for the first time. He played 50 games and drilled six home runs while driving in 37. He hit .312 on the year with an on base percentage of .411. To build on that success, Long went to Cape Cod league in the summer of 2022, but it did not go well. He got in 40 games and hit five home runs with 20 RBI. But he only hit .210 with a .320 on base percentage.

Heading into his junior year, Long was not considered an elite prospect by most people. He was just another corner infielder with some pop. But the summer in the Cape seemed to rattle his cage as he came back for a strong junior campaign.

Playing against elite competition can show you what you need to improve on. For Long, he rocked it this spring. In terms of batting average and on base percentage, those pretty much stayed the same in the low .300s and low .400s. But he cranked out 15 home runs this spring along with 52 RBI at a ballpark where it’s not exactly easy to get the ball over the fence.

Joe Doyle of Future Star Series analyzed Long’s skills here:

He possesses a reasonably polished hit tool, but the raw power is plus and he has a steady approach at the plate with a discerning plan of attack. It’s a bit of a louder, handsy load and firing mechanism at the plate, but he’s made it work against premium stuff […]He’s a fairly average athlete, though his first-step quickness has led some evaluators to suggest his future is likely in left field or at first base.

Long’s future really depends on his main strength which is getting to the ball quick. He will be fine in the lower levels and his ability to recognize pitches to use his hands will determine everything for him. It’s been a while since the Cubs drafted a 1B to specifically hit dingers. Should be a fun watch. In fact, he already is!

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