October 7, 2013 at 8:00 AM
For the next five weeks, SoxProspects.com will count down its end-of-season top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and looking at what's ahead for them in 2014. Please note that we will be using the site's official end-of-season rankings, meaning that any moves after September 28 will not be reflected in the countdown. You can find all of the entries in this year's series here.
Nick Longhi, OF/1B
2013 Team: GCL Red Sox
Final Stats: 50 PA, .178/.245/.356, 1 HR, 5 2B, 3 BB, 12 K
Season in Review: While he was not selected until the 30th round, Longhi was one of the most exciting players to join the Red Sox organization in 2013. Longhi was ranked as a top-300 prospect in the 2013 draft class by Baseball America, but fell because teams were worried that he would be a tough sign. Indeed, it took $440,000, the fourth-highest bonus handed out by the Sox, for Longhi to forgo his commitment to LSU. With only 50 professional plate appearances, it is tough to read much from Longhi’s 2013 stat line, but it is worth noting that six of his eight hits went for extra bases, reflecting his plus power potential. Longhi split his time with the GCL Red Sox between left field and first base, where he got six appearances apiece.
First-Hand Report & 2014 Outlook: As with any draftee, Longhi’s first experience in pro ball was more important in his getting used to the speed and grind of the pro game than anything else. It will be interesting to see where the Red Sox play Longhi going forward. He is one of only two first basemen in camp at Fall Instructs, so he was working at first exclusively when I was down there at least, but when I saw him in August, he showed some good ability to play balls off the wall in left. Still, he has showed below-average speed, when I saw him, so he will be limited to those positions. It looks like the bigger question at the lower levels will be whether Longhi will make enough contact to tap into his power, so there is a question of whether Longhi will break camp with the Greenville Drive or stay behind in extended spring training to wait for the start of the Lowell Spinners’ season. – Chris Hatfield
#39: Corey Littrell, LHP
2013 Team: Lowell Spinners
Final Stats: 31 IP, 0-3, 1.74 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 30 K, 10 BB
Season in Review: Littrell, a fifth-round pick out of the University of Kentucky, got his professional career off to an excellent start. The 6-foot-3 left-hander had three consecutive scoreless appearances after joining Lowell on his way to allowing an earned run in just three of his 12 outings. The ex-Wildcat continued to shine down the stretch—as the Spinners made their playoff push, Littrell pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings in his final two outings, giving up five hits and striking out 10 while walking only one. He continues a trend of the Red Sox drafting players who had standout sophomore seasons but had setbacks in their junior year, joining the likes of Anthony Ranaudo (2010), Jackie Bradley, Jr. (2011), and Deven Marrero (2012).
First-Hand Report/2014 Outlook: Because he was on the Red Sox throwing program for recent draftees, Littrell was on a strict pitch count in Lowell and limited to short outings. These brief starts do not provide an ideal scouting look; Littrell did not have to use all of his pitches or make adjustments the second time through the lineup. What innings we could see did provide a good baseline for what to expect going forward. Littrell does not have the highest ceiling and lacks a true knockout pitch. He did show a solid four-pitch mix, advanced pitchability and a controlled delivery. Littrell’s fastball sat 88-92 in the games scouted, with natural sink. He complemented his fastball with a changeup, curveball and cutter. He showed good feel for his changeup, thrown in the low-80s and with similar arm speed to his fastball. His mid-to-high-80s cutter also showed potential, with late bite in on the hands of right-handed hitters. Littrell also mixed in the occasional 11-5 curveball. If moved to the bullpen, Littrell could probably move relatively quickly, but he will first be given the chance to start. With the surplus of pitching in the lower minors, it would not be a surprise to see him start next season in Salem, skipping over Greenville. – Ian Cundall
Photo Credit: Nick Longhi by SoxProspects, LLC; Corey Littrell by Kelly O'Connor