72. Mitch Longo - Outfielder
Born: 01/12/1995 – Height: 6’0” – Weight: 185 – Bats: Left – Throws: Right
Facts & Info: Longo was taken by the Indians in the 14th round of the 2016 Draft out of Ohio University, and signed for $100,000. He was born and raised in northeast Ohio as he grew up an Indians fan and went to Mayfield High School. As a junior last season, he was named second team All-MAC after leading his team with a .360 batting average, .438 on-base percentage, 77 hits, 14 doubles and 12 stolen bases. He was the MAC Player of the Year in 2015 as a sophomore when he hit .358 with 7 HR and 49 RBI. Because Short-A Mahoning Valley had a rotation in the outfield that limited playing time he did not qualify for the NY-Penn League leaderboard in batting average, though had he qualified would have been 5th in the league.
Offense: Longo is a pure hitter who has a strong feel for contact at the plate and is another high contact, low strikeout player the Indians targeted out of the 2016 Draft. All he did in college was hit as he finished his three years with a career .356 batting average, and showed amazing consistency as he never hit below .346 or above .360 in his three years. He also showed a knack for limiting strikeouts as he never struck out more than 19 times in a season and only struck out 48 times in 671 plate appearances (7.2 K%). Coming out of the draft, the Indians liked his ability to control the zone, his ability to get on base, and his ability to hit, and in his short time at Mahoning Valley they saw those three things transition well to the pro game. They really like his swing from the left side of the plate as it is a flat, line drive swing that produces some good gap power and shows the ability to pile up a good amount of doubles with the occasional home run. His power is below average, but the Indians believe there is a little bit more power in there that will allow him to be average and drive the ball more consistently from gap to gap with a few extra balls going over the wall.
Defense: Longo has some good athleticism and runs well, though he is still working to be a better defender in the outfield. He has the ability to handle all three outfield positions, but because of his lack of true speed and defense he doesn’t fit well as an everyday center fielder and because of his lack of a strong arm he doesn’t fit well as an everyday right fielder. Because of the limitations with his arm and defense, he mostly profiles as a left fielder only who can handle the other two spots when needed. That said, the Indians will surely try to develop him some in right field and even center field to improve his versatility, but his future as an everyday player is no doubt in left field.
Speed & Intangibles: Longo is an above-average runner who runs the bases well and can steal some bases. He is a hard worker in the weight room, as evidenced by his muscular physique. He is not afraid to work at his craft and is always in the cage trying to get better and is not afraid to ask questions or for help from coaches. He has a passion and enthusiasm to play baseball, and is considered a big time makeup guy.
Focus: Longo is pretty advanced as a hitter and the ceiling is low as far as upside goes with his bat and game, so the focus is going to be about getting more power out of his bat and improving his defense. The Indians are hopeful that with better coaching, improved strength and conditioning and the use of technology that they can help him get to his power a little more which will take his game up a notch as a hitter. The Indians will work with him on his swing to get him a little more aggressive and to have more intent in the hopes that more power surfaces. Defensively, he needs to make strides with his jumps, reads and route running. The biggest obstacle he has to overcome is that he lacks a true profile as he doesn’t have the defense to play center, the arm for right or the big bat for left. He’s a tweener who will need to hit a lot to move up the minor league ladder and stay relevant, and is very similar in profile coming out of college to former Indians prospect Tim Fedroff.
Future: Longo rebounded from a rough start to his pro career last season that saw him put up a .220/.259/.380/.639 line through August 4th (15 games) at Mahoning Valley, but he caught fire the final month of the season hitting .356/.400/.425/.825 (23 games) which was the third best mark in the NY-Penn League over that stretch. He rolled his ankle early in the season and missed a couple of weeks so he was not able to get into the groove he maybe would have liked, which contributed to his early season struggles, but once he settled in he was pretty much the same hitter as he was in college. The bat is certainly interesting and there are some secondary tools to go with it, and this coming season will go a long way at showing where he stands in the organization and what kind of future he may have. He may not project as a future Major League everyday player, but he definitely has some projection as a role player – perhaps like a Brandon Guyer if all goes well. He should open the 2017 season at Low-A Lake County.