Detroit Tigers Prospect Report: Grayson Long

The Detroit Tigers have lots of new faces thanks to a variety of trades. “Future Friday” is a new segment where we examine the newest prospects in Detroit and their future impact in the Motor City.

The Detroit Tigers sold off a lot of veteran talent over the past year in exchange for prospects.

While it can be hard for fans to see all-stars like J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton and Alex Avila dealt, not to mention franchise icon Justin Verlander, the return can be an exciting batch of prospects who will become the next stars in Detroit.

‘Future Fridays,’ is a new weekly column where we pick a prospect and delve into their expected impact on the team. With so many new faces, we want to help Tigers fans identify the newest wave of Tiger players as they move into rebuilding mode.

So far we have analyzed all three prospects received in the Justin Verlander trade as well as Isaac Paredes, the other half of the Justin Wilson/Alex Avila trade that also netted the Tigers Jeimer Candelario.

The Tigers shipped away a third Justin during the 2017 season – left fielder Justin Upton. The return in that trade was primarily a huge salary relief, but they also got right-hander Grayson Long, the subject of today’s Future Friday post.

Grayson Long

Long was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 39th round in 2012 out of High School. He wisely chose to attend Texas A&M instead, and was selected in the third round by the Angels in 2015.

The Angels didn’t have Long throw the rest of 2015 after a long collegiate season. He eventually made his way to Single-A in 2016, starting eight games. He posted a tidy 1.58 ERA and a 10.13 K/9 at that level. After three starts in High-A Long suffered an injury and missed the rest of the season.

His 2017 saw him make 23 starts in Double-A. He posted a 2.52 ERA and an 8.21 K/9 before getting traded to the Tigers in exchange for Justin Upton.

Long stands 6’5 and weighs in around 230 pounds. He is a big guy who most scouts project as an “innings-eater” type starter. He has the size and pitch mix to last in the rotation, although scouts are concerned about his secondary offerings. From MLB.com’s Prospect Watch:

Long has the makings of a workhorse-type starting pitcher, with a strong and durable frame and a solid three-pitch mix. He can pitch well off of his fastball, a pitch that will sit around 90, but he can reach back and crank up close to 95 mph at times. It plays up because of its life and because of his ability, when he’s on, to locate it well. His secondary stuff needs to develop, but his slider will flash above-average, and he does have feel for a decent changeup.

The Tigers have a multitude of young right-handed starting pitching prospects. Long is on the outside looking in at that group.

Looking at his profile, I could see a future in the bullpen for Long. He can get his fastball up in the 95 mile range and struggles with his secondaries. If he transitioned to the bullpen he could bring his 95 mph fastball regularly, and would only need to focus on developing one strong secondary, instead of two or three.

At 23, Long is probably two years away from making the rotation as a starter. However, if he transitions into the bullpen he could compete for a spot as soon as 2018.

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All the trades have netted the Tigers a multitude of different prospects. Long is a guy who tends to get lost in the shuffle, but he has a great chance of helping the Tigers either in the bullpen or the rotation in the next few years.