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2017 Red Sox top prospect voting: Nick Longhi’s still searching for power

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Nick Longhi hasn’t reached his full potential, but he ranks number 12 in our rankings.

Kelly O’Connor;  sittingstill.smugmug.com

After Josh Ockimey squeaked out a victory in the last edition of this vote, the man he beat won decidedly this time around. Nick Longhi is your number 12 prospect for the Red Sox (which, oddly enough is exactly where he landed last year) after taking 39 percent of the vote.

Longhi, a local kid who was born in Springfield, was drafted out of a Florida high school by the Red Sox back in 2013 all the way down in the 30th round. Of course, he didn’t fall that far due to talent but rather signability. Teams thought he had a strong enough commitment to LSU that it’d take first or second round money to sign him. Instead, Boston eventually signed him to a $440,000 signing bonus, which is more like fourth round money.

After being drafted a 17-year-old, Longhi was immediately placed in the GCL. As with Ockimey, who was also a high school draftee, it did not go well. Because of that, the team kept him in extended spring training to start his first full year with the organization and he’d eventually spend the 2014 season with Lowell. He was impressive, to say the least. He finished that year hitting ..330/.388/.440 in 121 plate appearances. It was good enough to earn him a full-season promotion to Greenville for 2015, where he’d spend the entire year and hit .281/.338/.403 in 488 plate appearances. It wasn’t quite as dominating a performance, but it was still impressive enough for a 19-year-old.

All of this led to him finding himself in Salem to start the 2016 season, which was his age-20 season. As it turned out, it was more of the same for Longhi. He continued to show a strong ability to make solid contact, as can be seen by his .352 BABIP. That helped lead to a .282/.349/.393 that is eerily similar to the line he put up the year before. Some slight differences were that he walked and struck out a bit more in Salem and he spent most of his time at first base rather than splitting time nearly equally between the cold corner and right field. Most notably, as has been the case for his entire pro career, he once again was not able to harness into his power potential.

This is the strangest part of Longhi’s career, and is what is holding him back from jumping into the top-ten of this system. He’ll likely continue to strike out more as he moves up the system, given a swing that can get long at times. Advanced pitching can take advantage of that. However, if the power that scouts see during batting practice can carry over into games, he’ll be able to cancel out the potential strikeout issues. On defense, he has the skillset to succeed at both corner outfield spots as well as first base. While he may not have the ideal range for Fenway’s right field, he certainly has the arm as a high school pitcher who threw in the 90’s at the time.

Looking ahead to 2017, Longhi will have his biggest test of his pro career making the jump to Portland. Right now, Sox Prospects has him locked in as the Sea Dogs’ first baseman, but it’s not a roster with enough outfielders to keep Longhi locked into any one position. He’ll only be 21 this year, which means there is still time for growth. The Red Sox hope he can find a way to grow into his power, because he’s starting to run out of time.

  1. Andrew Benintendi
  2. Rafael Devers
  3. Jason Groome
  4. Sam Travis
  5. Bobby Dalbec
  6. Brian Johnson
  7. Marco Hernandez
  8. Roniel Raudes
  9. Michael Chavis
  10. C.J. Chatham
  11. Josh Ockimey
  12. Nick Longhi

As always, you can vote for the next prospect below.