How did 2020 impact Boston Red Sox prospect Nick Longhi?
Before we jump into the article, I just want to say goodbye to John Calvagno who sadly passed away at the end of November. Calvagno was well-known in the Boston Red Sox and prospect community and he will be missed. Back in 2015, I had just started getting into writing about the Red Sox minor leagues. It was an article about Nick Longhi that got his attention and he reached out to me. Calvagno was a very knowledgeable person, but even more importantly a great man – condolences to his loved ones.
Now I find myself talking about Longhi once again. This time, it’s about the crazy year that is 2020 (that refuses to end) and how it impacted the prospect.
Back in 2015, Longhi was one of the top prospects in the Red Sox entire system. Since then, a lot has happened.
In 2017, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. Quickly things were derailed there as Longhi had to undergo Tommy John surgery. This put a halt to his season, as Longhi played just 7 games in the Cincinnati system in 2017 (69 games overall).
The next year, the first baseman/outfielder appeared in 90 games. However, he was not his usual self. The right-handed hitter slashed just .244/.299/.320. You can’t really blame Longhi for struggling though. He was in a new system coming off a major injury – of course things were not going to go smoothly in 2018.
2019 was a major turnaround for Longhi though. The bounce-back year included 111 games played, the most he appeared in since 2016.
In those games, Longhi managed a strong .283/.336/.463 slash line. He hit 28 doubles (second-highest total of his career) while tying a career-high in triples (3) and setting a new personal mark with 12 home runs. Add in 51 RBI and 51 runs scored and that’s a phenomenal year and one that put Longhi back on the map. Boston signed him before the 2020 season. And well, then all the craziness happened.
Let’s be honest, it really hurt Longhi. I’m not saying it hurt his development or will be a major factor in his future. I will say this though, the Red Sox had plenty of issues in 2020. Even if they had a full regular season, it would not have been pretty.
In fact, things might have been even worse. That pitching would not have looked any better in 162 games. It probably would have looked worse. Boston would have needed to make some changes and spark something. That would likely have led to them looking towards the minors.
Oh, and look at that. They would have had someone that plays great defense at first base and strong defense (with a fantastic arm) in the outfield. Two positions that needed some help in 2020.
It would not have been surprising at all if Longhi made his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2020. So clearly the circumstances did not help him.
That being said, the good news is I don’t really think 2020 hurt him much either. Did it push back his MLB debut? Sure. Outside of that though, the Red Sox still have questions at certain positions. Meanwhile, Longhi’s still coming off a great season. He’s someone that they will probably want to look for as a cheaper option that could produce just as good as a lot of free agents they might consider bringing in.
In 2020, Longhi appeared in 16 Spring Training games for Boston before the pandemic halted everything. Clearly, the Red Sox had some sort of plan for him.
At the same time, there will likely be plenty of other teams interested. Don’t be surprised if other teams come knocking on his door as well.
For now though, he is someone the Boston Red Sox should still plan to have in their future. Nick Longhi can be a nice piece and while 2020 delayed his debut it should not have any lasting harm. He’s still just 25 and someone Boston definitely needs to consider bringing back into the fold.