The second baseman for the Dayton Dragons is speedy, athletic, quick with a smile and is one of the best players on the team. He has excellent range and a strong arm. He leads or is close to leading the Dragons in virtually every offensive category.

That description may sound like a younger Brandon Phillips. Instead, it’s about Shed Long.

The 20-year native of Alabama is in his second season with the Dayton Dragons. He has a slash line of .240/.311/.413, has 4 homers and 19 RBI’s and in 121 at bats has 12 walks and 27 strikeouts.

“Everyone wants to have a fast start and that would be nice but I just wanted to come in and be consistent,” said Long before a recent game in Burlington, Iowa. “I want to be a big asset to the team and lead by example. If I stay within myself, I’ll be good.”

Here is his bio: Shed Long was drafted in the 12th round of the 2013 draft by your Cincinnati Reds. The 5’10”, 180 pound second baseman bats lefthanded and throws righthanded. He isn’t on the Top 30 prospects of the Reds currently rated by the experts. He isn’t highly regarded in the Reds rebuilding plans. But he certainly catches your eye.

Dayton’s 9-28 record is the worst in the Midwest League. Their downfall has been at the plate. They have the lowest batting average for any team (.206) and are second in the League in strikeouts (330). Their pitching (4.11 ERA, third in the League) is more than respectable. But injuries and offensive slumps have obviously hurt the Dragons.

“It’s obvious we’re losing but it’s gonna click,” said Long. “Nobody is down and everything is positive. I mean, when I played in the Pioneer League at Billings, we won the championship. Most of these guys here went to the playoffs with Billings last year. We’re trying to jell and when we do jell this is going to be a tough team to beat.”

Shed Long was a shortstop in high school. “I caught a little bit and pitched some too,” said Long. “I played every sport but stopped football after 8th grade and basketball after 11th grade. I wanted to focus on baseball.”

“That and I stopped growing,” laughed Shed. “I played cornerback and my Dad was not very tall. In baseball, height doesn’t really matter and I was blessed with great baseball ability.”

The Reds converted Shed Long from a shortstop to a second baseman after spring training in 2015. Long welcomed the move. “The infield isn’t foreign to me and I have good range. I use my athleticism to my advantage. On every play, I use my athletic ability to the fullest.”

“When the Reds moved me to second base, it allowed me to focus more on hitting. Now, hitting comes first. For sure, I understand that defense matters a lot but I can focus on my at bats. See a good pitch, drive the ball. Get a quality at bat.”

“That’s another thing. Everyone has goals. You want to hit .300 or .320 for sure. I’d by lyin’ if I said otherwise. But I want to stay within myself and be disciplined. I don’t want to waste any  at bats. I know it’s a long season, we play 140 games and it’s hard not to do that. But if I get quality at bats and I battle and I give myself a chance, a good chance, I’m satisfied. If I stay disciplined at the plate, the numbers will be there.”

I only watched Shed Long for three games in Burlington. He does have impressive range. He makes the easy plays. He has a strong arm. He bats third (Shed said he did at high school as well) and for the Dragons, that’s a good fit. He doesn’t back down from lefthanded pitching. The only mistake he made during those three games was getting picked off first base one time.

I had to ask him two final questions. Has he met Brandon Phillips?

“Yeah, we actually talk a lot. I watched Brandon Phillips quite a bit when I was in high school. He’s the boss, that’s for sure.”

And since he hails from Anderson, Alabama is he a Crimson Tide fan in college football?

Shed Long broke out in a big smile. “No sir, I’m an Auburn fan. I grew up an Auburn fan for sure.”

For sure, I’m not a scout. For sure, I’m far from an expert. Just don’t sell this Alabama kid short.