Ethan Long says all the right things. The freshman slugger praises teammates and coaches, while avoiding coming off as cocky even though he has every right to be.
The confidence is evident, as he speaks with a soft smile and tries to explain just how he’s made Pac-12 pitching look like Little League coach pitch over the last month plus of baseball.
“I try to block out the attention a little bit more than I did when I was younger,” Long said. “I look at it now as motivation, to stick to my routine and keep working. My goal is never to hit a home run. I want to put the best barrel I can on the ball.”
The Man Behind The Bombs
While his verbage regarding his recent unprecedented success aligns with that of a modest, soft spoken player, his outgoing persona is anything but.
Long routinely discusses his deep bond with his freshmen classmates. He and fellow freshman Kade Higgins have both been coached by their fathers for their entire playing careers.
“We’re always talking about what our dads are telling us,” Higgins said. “They’re so knowledgeable about the game so we both are always talking to them about hitting.”
Long shared a similar sentiment.
“My hitting coach has always been my dad. I never really got lessons elsewhere,” Long said. “After the Washington series, I asked him to come over here and he threw me some BP and we worked some things out.”
Long was made available to media on Wednesday morning by popular demand. Over the last month, he has made college baseball look easy. And the man who goes by “EZ” says this success has been a product of tireless work on his part and that of the coaching staff.
“I’ve been able to get a ton of quality work in here, especially with coach (Michael Earley),” Long said. “He helped me realize how strong I really am, that I can change my swing and not try to produce a ton of power trusting that it will be there. One thing that really clicked for me was when he pointed out that a home run is one run whether it’s 380 feet or 500 feet.”
His onslaught of homers have been of varying distances, some of his most impressive blasts coming closer to 500 feet than 380. One noteworthy consistency has been his ability to hit the ball out of the park to the opposite field.
The majority of his long (no pun intended) balls have been launched to right field, the opposite field for the right-handed hitting Long. This display of opposite field power is rare, but certainly not unfamiliar to ASU baseball fans.
Spencer Torkelson’s home run heroics often showcased opposite field blasts, especially in his breakout freshman campaign in 2018.
Long, much like the former No. 1 overall pick in Torkelson, is making sure the ASU bullpen in right field is on high alert when he digs into the box.
“I really just try to go with the pitch wherever it’s thrown, and that has meant a lot of power to right,” Long said. “One of my goals coming into this year was to break Tork’s home run record. When I write down a goal, I decide I’m going to do it.”
On A Lighter Note
During previous postgame press conferences, Long has mentioned certain extracurriculars as intangible keys to his success. His In-N-Out order, for example, is a unique one.
The Mountain Pointe High School product prefers not to order animal style fries, but rather to create his own animal-esque concoction.
It’s regular fries with three packs of signature spread for dipping, served in the animal style “clamshell” box. It’s a one of a kind order for a one of a kind player.
The paternal baseball bond is not the only thing Long and Higgins have in common, too. The two are perhaps the biggest fans of the 2006 Will Ferrell movie, “Talladega Nights.”
Higgins explained that he and Long frequently reference the film’s signature “Shake and Bake” whenever Long leaves the yard.
Whatever it is that goes into Long’s routine, he shouldn’t change a thing.