Giants Draft pick once outhomered Barry Bonds

July 20th, 2022

For years, it was impossible for big leaguers to outslug fearsome Giants legend Barry Bonds. San Francisco's newest draftee has already accomplished that … kind of.

The Giants concluded the 2022 MLB Draft by selecting Ethan Long, an infielder from Arizona State University, with the 616th overall pick in the 20th round. Long is one of seven position players that San Francisco drafted on Day 3, reversing a trend from the first two days in which pitchers dominated the club's selections.

"I don't want to use the word 'Mr. Irrelevant,' being the last pick of the Draft, because in our eyes, he's certainly not irrelevant," senior director of amateur scouting Michael Holmes said. "He's someone that we're really excited about."

So, how did Long outslug Bonds?

Long burst onto the scene with a breakout freshman season for Arizona State in 2021, slashing .340/.417/.704 across 51 games for an eye-popping 1.121 OPS. The right-handed slugger launched 16 home runs that season, second-most freshman homers in school history -- moving Barry Bonds’ 11 (1983) into 3rd place.

While Long aspired to break the all-time freshman home run record, he settled for second-most by a freshman in Arizona State history behind Detroit's Spencer Torkelson (25).

“It’s always been a goal of mine,” Long told 247Sports while chasing Torkelson's record in 2021. “I’ve always looked up to him as a player, but it’s also like I want to be better than him at the same time, which is really hard because he’s a great person but also a great player.”

In his sophomore season, Long couldn't quite replicate his freshman form, in part because he missed time with a wrist injury. He only hit seven long balls in 2022, but he still hit .294 with a .902 OPS in 42 games.

"He was a little dinged up this year, with a little hamate injury and some things that maybe held him back from having this type of performance he had his freshman year," Holmes said. "But we believe that his performance resembles more his first year than this year. We're really excited that we can turn him over to [senior director of player development Kyle Haines] and his staff."

Raw power is one of Long's most valuable tools, per scouting reports, though that has led to some concern about his whiff rate. He struck out 84 times against 36 walks over two seasons at Arizona State, although he also got on base nearly 40% of the time.

Long also has plus arm strength, reportedly hitting up to 97 mph in the past, but his defense overall is graded as below average. He manned the hot corner at Arizona State, but the Giants opted to draft him as a first baseman. Holmes said the club sees him as a corner infielder, but will also give Long a chance to develop some defensive versatility.

"The player determines where their final landing spot is based off of what they do, and that's up to them," Holmes said. "We're here to help them reach whatever it is they want to be, and to help them get better."

Despite entering the Draft ranked No. 232 on MLB Pipeline's Top 250 Draft Prospects list, Long was the only ranked player that the Giants drafted on Day 3 -- and he went to San Francisco at the last possible moment. The Giants' expectations for the young slugger aren't necessarily Bondsian, but the Giants are excited to see how Long and the other nine players they drafted on Day 3 develop into professional players.

"I think all these guys are steals for us, because they're guys that we targeted," Holmes said. "Long deserves that ranking, he earned it based off of his body of work, but we feel like we got a lot of other guys that deserve some recognition. It's only a matter of time before they show what they can do."