LOWELL -- His golfing family moved from Massachusetts to Florida when Nick Longhi was three months old.
But Longhi never moved away from the Red Sox.
"My dad has been a Red Sox and Boston-everything fan for a long time," said Longhi, who was born in Springfield, Mass., raised in Venice, Fla., and is presently the Lowell Spinners' leading hitter.
On Thursday night at LeLacheur Park, the 18-year-old Longhi went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI, raising his average to .350 (14-for-40 with no homers, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 6 RBI) in the Spinners' 3-0 victory over the Tri-City ValleyCats.
"He's probably been our most consistent guy at putting the ball in play with some authority," said Spinners manager Joe Oliver.
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Longhi has hit safely in nine of the 12 games in which he has played. Over the past two nights, Longhi is 4-for-6 with a double, two RBI, three runs scored and his first two walks of the season. The Spinners won both those games, improving to 7-7 as they begin a three-game series in Vermont on Friday.
Vermont is where Oliver played Double-A ball in 1986 and 1987 as a catcher in the Reds system on his way to a 13-year big league career.
"That was a lifetime ago," Oliver said with a laugh about returning to Vermont. "But it's going to be nice. I still have some friends there that I've kept in touch with over the years."
Longhi had been back to Massachusetts several times through the years visiting family before being assigned to Lowell this summer. His dad, Tom, grew up in Springfield and was a golf pro at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield before opting for warmer weather. Longhi's dad still retains his status as a PGA professional and organizes corporate golf schools and outings. Longhi's mother Deborah also played golf professionally on the former LPGA Futures Tour.
Longhi is happy his family's golfing move to sunny Florida when he was an infant "gave me a chance to play more baseball."
The Red Sox signed Longhi for $440,000 after drafting him as a 17-year-old in the 30th round last year out of Venice (Fla.) High, which he helped win back-to-back state titles. A lefty with a low-90s fastball who didn't pitch much in high school, and a right-handed batter with raw power, Longhi appeared headed to LSU before the Red Sox anted up. He was projected to be a top-five-round outfielder/first baseman, but was considered a signability risk.
"The biggest part of it was just being the Red Sox," Longhi said about his decision to sign. "I grew up in the Red Sox environment. If it was any other team, I wouldn't be playing (professionally) right now."
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder last summer batted .178 (8-for-45) with a homer and four RBI in 16 games in the Gulf Coast League.
"It was a lot of getting used to the daily grind -- being there every morning at 6:30 a.m, working out, playing in the hot sun and getting used to seeing 92-94-mile-per-hour-plus pitching, not knowing where it was going," Longhi said about how he spent last summer. "That was a little nerve-racking."
For the Spinners so far, Longhi has seen time in right field, left field and first base. Thursday was his first appearance as DH.
Longhi will turn 19 on Aug. 16. He is the second-youngest player on the Spinners' current active roster.
"It's all about getting used to the pitching," said Longhi. "I'm pretty young. I've never experienced guys who pitch like this. Most of the guys I've seen were just hard throwers. These guys really know how to pitch."
So far this summer, Longhi has shown he knows how to hit.
Longhi had two of the Spinners' five hits on Thursday.
Meanwhile, lefty Randy Perez (6 innings), and right-handers Ellis Jimenez (2 innings) and Carlos Pinales combined on a five-hit shutout on Pedro Martinez Bobblehead Night.
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