Boston Red Sox prospect Nick Longhi offers value in a variety of ways
The 2020 season is going to be a weird one. Something that will be interesting about it though, is that it will offer an opportunity for a lot of players to potentially get a look in the Majors. One player that is in a bit of a weird spot is Red Sox prospect Nick Longhi.
The prospect was right near the top of the Boston Red Sox rankings a few seasons ago. He was then traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 2017 for international signing pool bonus space money. That money was used wisely, on catching prospect Daniel Flores. Flores was primed to be an absolute superstar.
Sadly though, the catcher passed away at just 17 due to cancer. It was a tragic ending to what should have been a long and wonderful life. Longhi on the other hand, played just seven games in the Reds’ system in 2017 before an injury forced him out.
After spending 2018 in Double-A and Triple-A, Longhi was exclusive to Triple-A for Cincinnati in 2019. Now he’s back with the Red Sox after signing with the organization this offseason.
So what exactly could he bring to the table in 2020 and beyond?
Well, a few things.
First of all, Longhi is a versatile defender. He plays both first base and corner outfield. That would do wonders for Boston, who lost super-utilityman Brock Holt this offseason.
It’s not just that he plays those positions either, Longhi is legit. In the outfield, he possesses an absolute cannon for an arm. Meanwhile, he’s an incredibly underrated first baseman. Smooth, makes all the “easy” plays and most of the hard ones. Exactly the kind of player you want picking the ball for your other infielders.
So not only did we just discuss the versatility but the fielding too. See how I threw them both in at the same time? That’s efficiency right there. It’s okay to admit you’re impressed.
Then there’s the hitting. Longhi has one thing going against him here. He isn’t graded out as a crazy-high average hitter or someone that’s going to get you 30 bombs. That means very little though because the right-handed hitter is going to give you quite a bit of everything offensively.
Longhi should be able to maintain a solid average (.280-plus) and has decent enough power to become a 20-plus home run threat. Meanwhile, he has the type of bat that would just have a field day at Fenway Park. We’re talking doubles on doubles on doubles.
Longhi is still just 24 but does not get nearly the hype he once did as a prospect. So you’d assume he had a down season in 2019, right?
Well, that’s not exactly the case. In his first full season in Triple-A, Longhi slashed .283/.336/.463. That .463 slugging percentage was his best ever. Meanwhile, the .283 batting average was second only to the 2014 season that saw him play just 30 games in Short-A.
As the slugging percentage suggests, he wasn’t just hitting singles either. Longhi roped 28 doubles (second-most he’s ever had in a single season) while posting career-highs in triples (3) and home runs (12). He also drove in 51 runs and scored 51 more.
The kind of power increase Longhi had is important to note. For a while, it has been said that he has “raw” power but it wasn’t really showing up in games. If it does, the narrative on Longhi could change fast and he could become a coveted prospect in the media very quickly again.
Could that 20-plus home run potential turn in 25-plus home run potential? Could be exciting to watch for.
So let’s break it down. You’ve got a 24-year-old who plays great defense at first base and is vastly improving in the outfield with a rocket-arm. That same player has very good hitting potential with solid power. And in 2019 he proved he was ready to take the next step.
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With that in mind, Longhi could provide a lot in 2020. That would include versatility and depth. A nice right-handed bat and good defense.
And think about how important that right-handed bat could be in 2020. The Red Sox have Mitch Moreland at first base and an all-lefty outfield of Jackie Bradley Jr., Alex Verdugo, and Andrew Benintendi. Might be smart to have some extra righty bats around.
Meanwhile, he could be a long-term solution at first base/a corner outfield spot. Longhi’s going to give the Red Sox great defense at first (and at the very least reliable defense in the outfield) while being a stable bat in the lineup.
Remember, both Bradley Jr. and Moreland have expiring contracts. And Longhi could be a perfect replacement.
2020 is going to be a weird season. It’s the perfect opportunity for teams to get a look at a bunch of different prospects. The Red Sox need to see what they have in Longhi because he could provide a spark in 2020 and show them that they have a long-term solution just sitting in the minors.