Of Arizona State baseball’s incoming sophomores, and there are a lot, none have higher expectations than Ethan Long.
The second half of Long’s 2021 freshman season was nothing short of remarkable. In an April and May surge, he ascended to become one of college baseball’s most prolific power hitters. After not hitting a home run before March 19th, he finished his freshman campaign with 16 bombs, including an unreal stretch of 15 homers in as many games.
He was named the Pac-12 player of the week twice, was named to the all Pac-12 team, and was a Golden Spikes award semifinalist in his first collegiate season. Expecting Ethan Long to flourish in his second season at ASU is not a wild take. An offseason of improvements at the plate, and getting his arm healthy will be ingredients for a monster sophomore season.
Throughout Long’s second half dominance, his power was reminiscent of Spencer Torkelson. Teammates and coaches alike noted that the opposite field power was especially comparable. In Torkelson’s sophomore season, he hit .351 and belted 23 homers. While the home run total was somehow down from his Herculean 25 bombs in his 2018 freshman season, his average was up 30 points and he was considered a much better overall hitter.
If Long is to live up to the man he’s been compared to, he will have to prove that his power can span an entire season, while lifting his average in order to become one of the country’s best hitters in 2022.
The Gilbert, Arizona native is not a one-trick pony. Former head coach Tracy Smith frequently referenced Long’s impressive arm, and how he could help the club on the mound. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury kept him from showcasing his pitching prowess, but he should be completely ready to go should the 2022 squad need his services on the mound.
There are always going to be variables from season to season, and an entirely new coaching staff is a potentially big one. Long has proven, however, that he can block out the noise, and hit pitching that is specifically designed to get him out. ASU baseball fans should be tremendously excited to watch this Arizona kid flourish in year two.