An 18th-round Draft pick of the Rays out of Sacramento State in 2016, Long pitched in the Tampa Bay organization for three seasons before being unexpectedly released in March 2018. The 25-year-old left-hander returned home to Sacramento, Calif., feeling unmoored and facing hard questions about his future. He enrolled in some EMT classes and began contemplating a career as a firefighter.
“At that time, I just felt like baseball wasn’t it,” Long said during a Zoom call with reporters last week.
Three years later, Long is in his first big league camp with the Giants — the team he grew up rooting for — and has emerged as a surprise standout among the 20 non-roster pitchers who have been invited to Scottsdale Stadium this spring. He made his Cactus League debut against the Angels on Sunday, striking out Brennon Lund looking on a 97 mph fastball en route to working a scoreless sixth in the Giants’ 5-2 loss at Scottsdale Stadium.