It was a very special day for Mitch Longo on May 11th. That was the day he got the call from Captains manager Larry Day that he will be joining the team. It was a very surreal feeling for the 22-year-old as he grew up about 15 minutes away from Classic Park. Being a local guy just makes it that much special for Longo and his family.
“It’s nice living in the comfort of my own home and the city I'm familiar with,” the Gates Mills, Ohio native said, “It made the transition a lot easier and I get to see my family more, which is great. As far as playing at home, I mean playing in Cleveland is still home too so ideally I want to be up there with the big guys but its just another step I've got to take.”
In June of 2016, Mitch was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 14th round, pick number 422 overall. His first action playing in the Cleveland Indians organization was playing for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. He played in a total of 38 games for the Scrappers, where he had a batting average of .307, had one home run and totaled 15 RBIs. It was a solid start to his professional baseball career with the Indians organization. Getting moved up to play for the Captains was a transition that was smooth for him. Although he's joining a new team, he will be playing with some familiar faces.
“All these guys kind of welcomed me back with opened arms,” Mitch said regarding playing with some of his former teammates in Mahoning Valley, “You can kind of skip the introductions, it's kind of getting thrown back into things. It’s a smooth transition and we all have chemistry that we created throughout the past season so it was pretty smooth.”
During spring training early this year, Longo broke the hamate bone in his right hand. This injury caused him to miss about seven weeks of baseball. It was a big blow to the young prospect but it didn't take too long for him to get back on the field competing with his teammates.
He’s now more than a full week into the season with the Captains. The transition has been solid for the 22-year-old.
“Still a little soreness and a little bit of pain in my wrist and hand,” Longo said about the transition so far, “It’s normal and its nothing I can't play through right now. I feel good and it feels good to be back playing on an everyday basis and back home.”
Coming into Lake County, he continues to be a big factor not only in the field but also at the plate. He is a hard hitting lefty coming into a Captains team that has been struggling at the plate early on in the season. Longo can become a difference maker on both ends for the team moving forward and thats exactly what he hopes to bring to Lake County.
“I just want to be a spark, any kind of energy I can bring," Longo said, "Anything I can do to help, whether its on the bases, in the field or at the plate. I just want to help generate some more runs and help save a few at the same time.”
In his time with the Captains early on, he certainly has made a positive impact for the team. Manager Larry Day has had some positive words to say about his most recent addition to the team.
“He’s been pretty impactful when he's been out there for us,” Larry Day said coming off the teams recent homestead, “Driving balls to all fields, driving guys in. His impact was certainly felt then.”
Playing in front of family, friends and close relatives on a daily basis is something that Longo can start getting used to again. He hasn't played this close to home since his days at Mayfield High School. Playing so close to home makes each appearance with the Captains that much more special to Mitch. With this, brings many emotions to the 22-year old, including a sense of nervousness.
“The emotions kind of magnify it a little bit, but it’s nothing that I haven't really experienced before,” said Longo, “I always get pre game jitters but its normal as its my body telling me that I am ready to go. It’s exciting and I like it and I guess I wouldn't want to have it any other way.”
It doesn't happen very often when a player comes home to play for his hometown team. It’s a very welcoming and humble experience for Mitch Longo as he looks to bring winning ways back to Lake County. The recent move to play for the Captains can be the start of something special for Mitch and his baseball career moving forward.