A Minors Obsession

Shed Long is crushing the ball in Daytona

The first eight games of the year were a struggle for Shed Long in Daytona. In those first 36 plate appearances of the year he had just four singles and no extra-base hits. His line was .143/.278/.143.

When players slump to begin the year, or even when they start out on fire, the natural reaction if to overreact in one fashion or another, even though we all tend to know better. Shed Long, too, knows better. But he didn’t let the slow start come into play in his mind according to the excellent podcast Great American Dream that’s all about Shed Long and his journey to the Major Leagues that’s being put together by C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. If you aren’t listening to it, you need to. It’s been fantastic to this point in time.

It’s a good thing that a slow start didn’t get into his mind, because Shed Long has absolutely torn the cover off of the baseball since April 15th. He’s had 122 plate appearances since then over the span of 28 games. His line since then? .354 batting average, a .393 on-base percentage and a .575 slugging percentage.

Without context, a .969 OPS is all kinds of awesome. But to give it more context of just how good that actually is, we need to understand that the league he’s playing in is known to be the most pitcher friendly league in minor league baseball. The average line right now in the Florida State League is .254/.323/.371 – and that’s historically high for the league. When we toss in that he’s a second baseman and not a corner outfielder or first baseman, it’s even more impressive.

Nick Senzel is also catching fire

Shed Long isn’t the only Daytona hitter that’s caught fire. Nick Senzel has been on an absolute tear over the last three weeks, too. In 20 games played since April 23rd, the 2016 #2 overall draft pick has hit .333/.388/.551 with eight doubles and three home runs. Last night, with Cincinnati Reds General Manager Dick Williams in attendance in Daytona, Senzel went 2-4 with a double and a home run while driving in four. The double was his Florida State League best 14th of the season.

32 thoughts on “Shed Long is crushing the ball in Daytona

  1. I’ve posted a good bit recently that I’m far from convinced that Jose Peraza will ever be an above average major league hitter. With that in mind Doug I love reading that there are two infielders in A ball just raking at the plate. Here’s hoping these two guys continue to hit and eventually make an impact in Cincinnati. Thanks as always for the updates.

  2. Why are these guys still in A+ ball?

    Long was drafted 4 years ago.

    I’ve always heard that the top college players are equivalent to AA as a pro. but yet Senzel is still at the A+ level

    • The season is just entering the 6th week. Rarely is anyone promoted that quickly as a position guy for a permanent situation.

        • Because six weeks isn’t usually enough time to learn what you generally need to learn at each level. Different levels tend to offer different things that are that “next step” of learning.

          • To add to it, let players get around the league a few times. Let other teams see what they can do and try to adjust. That can then show what it could be that a player needs to work on. Or, maybe it shows that they’re ready to move up.

    • There are many teams like the Reds that tend to wait WAY too long to promote excelling players. At least that is my perception over my lifetime of watching Reds prospects.

      I get what Doug is saying of course, but I keep going back to Mike Trout. If the Reds had drafted him, would he even be a star today? Would he have been brought along slowly like most Reds prospects, one level per year, always starting in rookie ball (if high school player like Trout). Would Trout have been a rookie just last year or this year?

      I can’t help but think the Reds could have the universal #1 prospect, at 18 years old and maybe Mike Trout like talent and still having to go through the one level a year “MLB player development for dummies” demands. I know few Trouts come through, but I can’t recall the last time the Reds promoted a very young prospect and skipped a few levels, all before age 21. Who was the last 20 year old or younger to be made an everyday player? Probably have to go back to the 60s or 50s.

    • and yes, Senzel should be getting promoted before June 15th and if he rakes at AA, then he should get promoted to AAA after a solid 100+ AA at bats. I seriously doubt he gets to AAA this year, but I hope to be proven wrong.

  3. I am 100% on the Shed Long bandwagon. I think he has the potential to be a better version of what we think Dilson Herrera can be, and I’m pretty high on Herrera as well. Looking forward to seeing both of these guys make the jump up to Pensacola soon.

    • Might he make your 3 Up list, or at least honorable mention? Doing some sort of minors 3 Up # Down on like a monthly basis might be a cool thing.

      I agree with you though. It’s promising to see both him and Senzel making strides. I’m curious to see how Herrera does this year.

      • A month isn’t really enough time to truly put a guys stock up/down, unless they are showing an actual difference in tools somewhere (a guy starts throwing significantly harder than ever before, picked up a new pitch that is a difference maker, changed their plate approach and are now walking more, striking out way less, hitting for way more power – things like that).

  4. As slow as they seem to be moving, maybe Senxel will be a player in the bigs when he’s 25, and ,if he makes it, poor old long will be about 27.

    • I don’t know how it is compared to other clubs, but Reds seem notoriously slow when promoting players thru the system. Why not start these guys off at AA IMMEDIATELY at the start of the year so wed’d already have 6 weeks worth of data there instead of High A

      • I’ve noticed that he same thing – historically slow. This is exactly why I DO NOT want them to draft a high school player in the upcoming draft ( regardless if Hunter is available or not). It will take him forever to get on the major league roster at the rate the Reds go. I know there are financial / control consideretions also, but the Red take FOREVER.

        • You mean like how Jay Bruce was in the Majors at age 21, getting there quicker than Todd Frazier or Zack Cozart, who were college players? Worry about drafting a big leaguer, because that’s hardly a guarantee in the MLB draft. Don’t worry about how long it may be until they arrive, just draft a guy you’re confident in that will actually arrive.

          • I do enjoy your coverage of the minors though Doug – thanks for the good info you always provide; just giving my 2 cents, right or wrong

          • I think you’d agree Doug that if the Reds had drafted Mike Trout, his career wouldn’t be half as good as it’s been with the Angels. There is no way they promote him as fast as the Angels did. Of course, having Dusty “I hate young talent” Baker as manager wouldn’t have helped even if they had promoted him I guess.

            I bet Mike Trout, as a Reds player, is starting his second season, probably regressed from his great minor league start because he languish in A ball (while raking) too long and got frustrated…and who knows what else.

            I know we don’t have a Mike Trout, but the way the Reds work, even if we did, we’d never know it because instead of making an MLB all-star team, they’ll be growing weary in high A ball in some desert town.

    • He’s spent the first five weeks of his first full season in Advanced-A. Ian Happ, drafted in 2015, went to the same level, Advanced-A, and wasn’t promoted until June 19th of 2016 from that level. He debuted in the Majors this week.

      Sticking with the local theme, Andrew Benentendi was drafted in 2015. He too began his first full season in Advanced-A ball. He was promoted to Double-A on May 15th of last year.

      Dansby Swanson, the #2 overall pick in 2015 spent the first month in Advanced-A before being sent to Double-A of his first full season.

      A few guys have started in Double-A that first full season. Alex Bregman, Kyle Schwarber.

      For the record, the other two college hitters taken in the Top 10 last year are also still playing at the Advanced-A level.

      Your perception isn’t based in reality.

      • I think they need to snatch Hunter Green if he is available, and develop him both as a pitcher and a hitter. Given the innings limits they put on young pitchers, it would seem to be easy to let him pitch his limit, then play in the outfield the rest of the year, not to mention some ABs at DH.

        If he hurts his arm as a pitcher, for which there is always a solid chance, then you have a 1st-round level hitter that you have kept on a regular development path.

        There’s gonna be a 2-way player some day; might as well be with the Reds.

      • The perception isn’t so much Senzel (too early to tell) as it is the history of Reds farm system management. Seeing other organizations having 21 year olds at AAA, while ours are still in high A ball, and being otherwise equal prospects, is what is frustrating. This is over decades, and skewed because seeing 30 other teams with a few of these young firebrands can make you think every team has one every year (when they don’t), but when was the last time the Reds had a 20 year-old up at AAA or MLB and playing full-time? I can’t recall anyone since I started remembering back in the late 70s.

      • Would Kershaw have been so good, so young with the Reds? Not a chance. He’d have lost some strong, young years to high A, AA and AAA. Would Jared Fernandez? Nope. Had they Dwight Gooden back in 1984, would he have been lighting the NL on fire as a 19 year-old? No way, no how, we all know better. He’d be in A ball striking out 200 in 120 innings.

    • Senzel is older than Long by about 8 weeks. Senzel turns 22 on June 29, and Long on August 22. They aren’t really slow in their progression, assuming they both merit a promotion by mid-season. Long would be 21 this year in A+/AA, 22 next year in AA/AAA, and perhaps ready at age 23. Long was only 17 when he graduated high school.

      The convention for what is one’s “age-XX” season is apparently July 1; born July and after, you are considered to be in your age is “age X” season, but born before, you are considered to be in your “age X+1” season. Senzel is thus deemed in some corners to be a year older, but it is pretty much nonsense in his case.

      I don’t think the Reds wait too long on guys in the minors. Leake got here at 22, as did Chapman and Cueto; Homer got here (too early) at 21,and Cingrani was 23. For hitters, Votto got here at age 23 (near 24), but that’s worked out well. Hamilton arrived at age 22 (near 23), and Bruce at 21. On the other hand, Cozart and Frazier arrived at 25, as did Corky Miller. Curtis Partch was 26.

      I think they’ve pretty much brought them up when they are ready; it doesn’t make any sense to either rush them or delay them. If guys seem to be languishing in the minors, its usually justified for performance reasons. Amir Garrett, for example, was unusually green as a pitcher, so he took probably an extra year; Finnegan came early. I want guys to be brought up when they are ready to contribute, although I understand that there is a learning curve even when they get here.

      • I agree it’s too early to judge the Reds handling of Senzel. I am worried that the same old “baseball for dummies” rules will apply, but lets hope we’re wrong and let’s hope Senzel gives them reasons to prove us wrong by mashing at each level.

        There is no reason, if he does mash, to not be starting 3B NEXT YEAR. He won’t be “too young” when there are much younger full time starters that will be or have been MLB all-stars already.

        • Other than the Reds have a current third baseman that’s crushing the ball right now….

          And very, very few players ever are starting opening day two seasons after being drafted. Your expectations are incredible.

  5. Mr. Doug,
    How does Shedrick look defensively in tandem with AlfRod at SS and their double play combo potential?

  6. Looking forward based on current, early season performances…

    T.J. Friedl (CF – age 21 – class A Dayton) .285/.371/.460 – .831 OPS
    Friedl played the entire 2016 partial season in ROK Billings and has 37 games in Dayton for 2017. If the Reds begin making mid-season pormotions at the higher levels, Friedl will likely piggyback with a mid-season promotion to Daytona.

    Tyler Stephenson (C – age 20 – claqss A Dayton) .280/.399/.415 – .814 OPS
    Stephenson played 39 games at Dayton in 2016 and has 34 games in Dayton for 2017. With Mesoraco’s contract expiring after the 2018, a mid-season promotion to Daytona becomes almost a necessity.

    Shed Long (2B – age 21 – class A+ Daytona) .312/.367/.489 – .856 OPS
    Long played 38 games at Daytona, slashing .322/.371/.503, in 2016 and has 36 games in Daytona for 2017. A mid-season promotion to Pensacola seems inevitable.

    Nick Senzel (3B – age 21 – class A+ Daytona) .290/.352/.448 – .800 OPS
    Senzel played 58 games at Dayton in 2016 and has 37 games in Daytona for 2017. With Senzel ramping up his performance coming off a stellar performance at Dayton in 2016, he probably receives a promotion to Pensacola before the end of the season.

    Joe Hudson (C – age 25 – class AA Pensacola) .282/.404/.385 – .789 OPS in 16 games
    Hudson played just 67 games at Pensacola in 2016 and managed just a .605 OPS. His age and lack of offense (career .658 OPS) work against him, but his defensive skills provide value as a catcher. The small sample size in 2017 (Hudson had to wait for Mesoraco to complete his rehab assignment before getting any significant playing time) provide no real basis for any long term projection, but Hudson should have the remainder of the 2017 season to establish any prospect status going forward. Turner’s role for the remainder of the 2017 season could significantly impact Hudson’s potential future with the Reds.

    Juan Perez (SS – age 25 0 class AAA Louisville) .300/.398/.538 – 935 OPS
    Perez simply exploded for the Bats in 22 games to begin the 2017 season, but his career .714 OPS (inflated by his lower minor league performance) speaks to 2017 being an outlier. Perez has also been on the DL for the past 10 days. Perez would have to demonstrate a full season of production to toss his cap into the SS lottery or IF utility lottery for 2018. There are simply other options avaiable at the major league level until Perez can force the issue with his performance.

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