Pittsburgh Pirates: Three College First Basemen To Watch This Year

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Ethan Long

Baseball’s 2022 Mr. Irrelevant will re-enter the 2023 draft, that being Ethan Long. The San Francisco Giants picked Ethan Long with the 616th pick in the draft but were unable to come to terms with the corner infielder. This was mainly due to signability concerns, as he was still a sophomore and could go back to Arizona State for another season.

Long has done nothing but hit during his college career. In 359 plate appearances, Long has batted .318/.398/.620. In total, he’s had 45 extra-base hits. That includes 21 doubles, 23 home runs, and a triple. Long, despite not being extremely fast, has been able to swipe five bases in five attempts. Long is also selective at the dish, drawing a walk in 10% of his plate appearances.

The downside with Long is that he comes with swing-and-miss concern. He’s struck out 23.4% of the time. While he did cut his strikeout rate down from 24% to 22.8%, the high strikeouts are a concern. He plays in the PAC-12, a highly competitive and highly-ranked conference, but the issues are glaring.

Long has played at both corner infield positions but has mostly seen time at third base. He’s not a great defender but has the arm to play the hot corner. Long has also pitched 11 innings and has even closed out four games for Arizona. He’s also played a few games in both corner outfield positions.

But Long has the make-up to improve his game. Prospects Live lauded his work ethic and clubhouse leadership. MLB Pipeline also states he’s put in work to improve his defensive game, even if it is still below average at third base. Both sources have stated that he’s only gotten better since high school. That could point to a much brighter future than what he currently projects as. He’s trending in the right direction, and improvements this year could land him an early draft slot.

Long was ranked as the 302nd best draft prospect by Prospects Live and 232nd player from MLB Pipeline’s list. Depending on how the Pirates utilize their first few rounds and where Long sits after the ‘23 college campaign, he might end up on the Pirates’ radar in the 3rd or 4th round.