Baseball, Men's Sports, Sports

Jonathon Long’s journey from walk-on freshman to scholarship sophomore

After finally being back on the field, the Dirtbags have not disappointed fans, especially with infielder, Jonathon Long on the team. The walk-on freshman, now a sophomore, was named player of the week during the month of Feb.

Long is from Orange, California, where he attended Orange High School and was discovered by word of mouth after not receiving any college offers.

It all began when Long Beach State Head Coach Eric Valenzuela discovered the baseball player when Steve Trombly, owner of the travel ball organization Trombly Baseball introduced Long to Valenzuela.

In the middle is Jonathan Long next to his teammates for Trombly baseball
In the middle is Jonathon Long next to his teammates for Trombly baseball Photo credit: Steve Trombley

“The thing that I’ve said about Jonny that has really stuck with me, is I call him an elite performer,” Trombly said. “Jonny just performs at the highest level.”

When it came to helping Long find an opportunity to play in college, Trombly connected him with Valenzuela.

Valenzuela, who has known Trombly for over 20 years, was aware of Trombly Baseball’s strong rapport and was interested in Long.

“He told me about this kid that was on his team that was still available,” Valenzuela said. “He’s a big hitter, he also pitched and put up crazy numbers his senior year of high school.”

Valenzuela said that he went to watch Long play a couple of times and noticed a good approach at the plate.

“He’s a really really good student, he comes from two parents who are in education and so I really felt that we would give him an opportunity to walk on,” said Valenzuela.

Coach Valenzuela describes Long as a blessing in disguise. The sophomore recently was named Big West Player of the Week in February.

Back in February, Long earned the season’s first Big West Weekly Honors when he lead the team in hitting with a .545 average and a 1.182 slugging percentage.

Johnny Long at first base to get the out for the end of the inning against Mississippi State
Jonny Long at first base to get the out for the end of the inning against Mississippi State

“With everything that he does, I am not surprised by it, I am excited by it because I believe in him and I know he can do it at the highest level,” Trombly said. “I believe that he has a shot to be a major leaguer.”

Long revisited what earning the honor was like for him, after the eventful game against Mississippi State.

“Obviously going to Mississippi, taking two out of three, that’s probably a series I’ll never forget,” Long said. “Playing in front of the most fans I’ve ever played in front of, they had like 10,000 people at the game, but to have an offensive performance like I did, it was just something I’m proud of.”

Prior to Long receiving the walk-on opportunity at Long Beach State, he said there was no specific plan for what his future would look like for baseball.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet,” Long said. “They sat down and met with me, then just gave me an opportunity and I said ‘why not?’”

Since then, Long has continued to make headlines and lead his team in many games.

“I was just looking for a shot, I was looking for an opportunity, and I was like ‘alright, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out,’ but I’m glad it did now,” Long said.

Valenzuela said the freshman has earned a scholarship this year not only for his success in baseball but also for his success as a person and as a student.

“He’s a really, really, good student, he does everything right off the field,” Valenzuela said. “He’s a really good player and a guy like that deserves to be on scholarship.”

Editor’s note: This article was updated at 4:11 p.m. to correct the spelling of Jonathon Long’s name. 

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