Did The Reds’ Shed Long Live Up To The Preseason Hype?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Reds’ Shed Long had a bit of hype heading into the 2017 season, and to an extent he delivered on it. Splitting time between High-A and Double-A, the numbers for the now 22-year old were reasonable:

  • High-A (279 PA) – .312, 13 HR, 36 RBI, 37 R, 6 SB
  • Double-A (160 PA) – .227, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 13 R, 3 SB

Obviously what jumps out at you is the drop in average. It’s easy to point towards a luck regression (his BABIP went from .368 to .271), but that may not tell the entire story. Despite advancing he actually reduced his strikeouts (22.6% to 19.4%).

Of course his 10.9% SwStr% at the level does give us reason for concern, though it was an improvement on his 11.9% at High-A. It’s not a complete over aggressiveness, as he posted walk rates of 9.7% and 11.9%. That may ultimately be the key to his development, as there is clearly enough power and speed to catch our attention.

Long may never be a 40 HR or 40 SB contributor, but he has the makeup of a potential 20/10 player. If he becomes an efficient base stealer he could eclipse the 10 SB mark, though he’s not a pure base stealer that could swipe them on speed alone. As Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 recently described him:

While he does have good bat speed with a chance to hit for average power, he’s not a fast runner so the upside on the stolen bases should be high single-digits at best.

There’s clearly value, and if he continues to refine himself at the plate and keeps the strikeouts where they are he could prove to be a .275ish hitter to go along with a 20/10 line. The problem may be in the RBI/R department, as he currently doesn’t profile as a top of the order hitter nor does he fit in the middle of the lineup. He could ultimately hit sixth or seventh, and that’s going to limit his potential upside.

A left-handed hitter you also run the risk of him falling into a platoon. That’ll just further limit the potential, and we will also have to monitor his power as he’s listed at just 5’8″. Obviously that doesn’t mean he can’t hit for power, but we will have to watch him closely.

There’s some potential appeal, though there also are significant questions. At the end of the day it’s possible Long develops, but for now he’s more of a moderate prospect with limited upside.

Current Grade – C+
Upside Grade – B/B-

Sources – Fangraphs, Prospect 361

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