Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Legend of Kenny Long

Okay, I even keep up with this kind of thing and it still blew me away. It's time we focused on the Legend of Kenny Long, called up to Corpus today from Lancaster (where his parents apparently just flew in to see him).

As mentioned in the last post, Long was drafted in the 22nd Round of the 2012 draft - the 669th overall selection - out of Illinois State University. At Illinois State, his 15 saves broke the single-season school record (once held by Jeremy Accardo). In 2012, he threw 41IP (leading the bullpen), with 24H/9ER, 42K:9BB, and a .166 batting average against (team-best). His 1.98 ERA was second on the team.

He was assigned - like most college players - to Tri-City where, in his professional debut against Vermont on June 19, 2012, he allowed 1H/2ER, striking out one and walking three batters. The one hit was a double. He hasn't allowed an extra-base hit since then. 

Overall for the ValleyCats, Long pitched in 17 games (14.1IP), and in those 17 games allowed 4H/3ER, with 20K:5BB. 79% of his pitches were thrown for strikes, 46% of them swinging. I've been looking at this for a while, and I've never seen a swinging strike percentage that high.

Thus, he earned a promotion to Lancaster. In his Cal League debut have gave up 1H/0ER, 2K:0BB. He allowed two more hits in his next seven innings, and just one earned run which scored because the reliever after him allowed the inherited runner to score. His BABIP-against in Lancaster was .375, yet opponents hit just .115/.179/.115. He struck out 18 batters, walking two, in those 17 games. He was on the mound for the last out of the Cal League title-winning game.

Righties hit .214/.303/.250 with 10K:4BB against Long in 2012. Lefties? 1x43 with 28K:3BB for a stout .023/.087/.023 line. For the 2012 season? 22.1IP, 7H/4ER, 38K:7BB. 15.3 K/9, 5.43 K/BB ratio. Opponents were 7x71 for an .099/.177/.113 line.

But wait. There's more. Somehow Long opened the 2013 season back in Lancaster. In six games for the JetHawks, Long has allowed 2H/0ER, 8K:1BB. Opponents are hitting .077/.111/.077. 84% of his pitches have been thrown for strikes, 41% of them swinging. He has faced 27 batters, and three have reached base. Lefties are 0x12 against him with five strikeouts and one walk.

Just to reemphasize the point: For his professional career, left-handed batters are 1x55 with 33K:4BB.

Long's career: 1.19 ERA/0.56 WHIP. One extra-base hit allowed. 13.6 K/9, 5.75 K:BB ratio.

In his last five outings, Long has thrown 7IP and 41 pitches total. 37 of them have been for strikes. In his last three appearances, Long has thrown 23 pitches, every single one of them for strikes. Nine of the last 16 pitches he has thrown have been swings-and-misses.

Now, let's try to find some criticism so that it doesn't seem like I'm just a shrieking fan (I am). Long is in his Age 24 season. The average age of California League batters in 2013 is 22.9. So Long was about a year older than his competition. The average age of Texas League batters is 24.1, so we'll get a better indication this season. If he continues his domination of LHBs (let's face it, that level of domination is unsustainable), then a trip to Houston this season isn't out of the question.