to professional baseball” moment.
Long was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 29th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and made his professional debut with the Missoula Osprey on June 19. The St. Joseph’s product surrendered a double to the first batter he faced and followed up the extra-base hit by throwing a wild pitch, allowing the run to score. Long came back out for a second inning and issued two walks and allowed a second run to score with another wild pitch.
Long knew when he walked off the mound that his baseball career could only get better.
“That first game was certainly nerve-wracking,” Long said. “I was excited for it, and I was probably a little too pumped up to tell the truth.”
The Ohio native didn’t make any sweeping changes to his game in the wake of his first outing. Long simply went back to work, spending time with his coaches and getting acclimated to his new team and new role. Long was a starter for all nine of his appearances with St. Joseph’s as a senior and has been working exclusively out of the bullpen for the Osprey.
The results started to show up immediately as Long started to build confidence by striking out his lone batter four days later. Two scoreless outings in a weekend series against Billings followed and Long started building an impressive resume.
Since giving up two runs in his first game, Long has gone the next 15 games and 17 2/3 innings without giving up a run.
“I’m going in and doing the best that I can,” Long said. “That’s what they’re asking me to do. I’m just concentrating on the situations that I’m in.”
As much as Long is enjoying baseball on the mound, he’s also enjoying the change of scenery that comes with taking a Midwest kid and dropping him in the middle of Montana.
“I grew up in Ohio and played in Indiana,” Long said. “This is a whole different experience. The Midwest is just flat land for miles and miles. Out here its mountains everywhere and it’s just beautiful. Last week we were in Colorado and it was crazy.”
Long is still up in the air for his plans after Missoula’s season ends next month. Playing in the fall instructional league is a possibility, as well as returning home for the offseason. Regardless of his plans, it’s clear that if Long continues to tally up scoreless outings, he’ll continue to move his way through Arizona’s system.