“Before I was born, my dad thought I’d be a football player. My mom told him I was going to be a professional baseball player,” Long said. “That’s when I was in her stomach. Since I was a kid I’ve been saying I want to be a pro baseball player.
“Over the past two years scouts have been talking to me and I’ve realized I have a chance. I just had to work.”
Saturday morning the Cincinnati Reds drafted Long in the 12th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft, making the Jacksonville High catcher’s dream a reality.
Although the 375th pick was not announced until 12:30, Long got the call at 10:30, while he was washing his truck.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Long said. “When it happened I was running around the house and everything.”
The do-it-all player for Jacksonville signed with Northwest Florida State College, formerly Okaloosa-Walton Community College, before his senior season, but plans to sign with Cincinnati on Sunday. Although most of the contract is still being worked out, Long said the deal will be for five years.
Next week, Long added, he’ll be sent to the rookie leagues to play with the Arizona Reds, joining 2012 18th-round draft pick and Oxford product Jackson Stephens, for a possible Calhoun County pitcher-catcher duo.
“It’s a possibility,” Long said.
The trip from Jacksonville to the MLB Draft came behind a lot of work. Long credits a lot of motivation from his father, Shedric Sr., but Golden Eagles coach David Deerman is also someone who has seen Long develop over the years.
“Shed started for us as a freshman and just to see him progress throughout the last four years of his baseball career has been amazing.” Deerman said. “He really had a good offseason this year and was fortunate enough to travel all around the southeast playing.”
The Jacksonville product was invited to a Reds camp two weeks ago in Houston and saw his stock rise after playing well, including hitting 12 homeruns.
“There was 14 people from Texas and I was the only person from Alabama,” Long said. “We hit, we ran and I threw well. I hit extremely well and it helped my stock in the draft.”
Long hit .474 his senior season with an on-base percentage of .610. He recorded 41 RBI and 34 runs, along with hitting 14 doubles, three triples, two homeruns and stealing seven bases. Long also held a 5-2 record on the mound with a 1.88 ERA.
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.