No Easy Answer for Pitching Phenom

Robby Messer | June 7th, 2018

Major League Baseball’s 2018 draft is still clearly visible in the rearview mirror, but there are plenty of storylines to consider moving forward.

Will Kyler Murray, who is the best candidate to take over at quarterback at Oklahoma after Baker Mayfield was the top pick in the NFL Draft, choose to go back to college?  Will he sign with the Oakland A’s who picked him with the 9th selection? He appears to be on the verge of signing with Oakland for about $5 million with the hope of playing for the Sooners this fall.  However, with a contract worth that kind of money, one would have to believe the A’s would have something to say about the injury risk Murray would face playing football. It’s likely that’s a chance the A’s would not want to take. At that amount of money, Murray would be foolish to turn down the opportunity to play professional baseball now, risk injury, and lose every opportunity in the blink of a bad snap.

Bloodlines

The Astros drafted the brothers of Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman, along with Antonio Cruz, the grandson of former team legend Jose Cruz. The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Griffin Conine, the son of former major leaguer Jeff Conine. It seems the Jays are trying to corner the market on the sons of baseball stars. They could have an entire infield of them at the major league level in a couple years: Kacy Clemens (1b), Cavan Biggio (2b), Bo Bichette (ss), Vlad Guerrero Jr. (3b).

Undrafted

Perhaps the biggest storyline isn’t about a person who was drafted but about someone who was not. For the second year in a row, perhaps one of the best pitching prospects was not drafted. Luke Heimlich is a four-pitch hurler who led his team, the Oregon State Beavers, to the Super Regionals with a 15-1 record. But it is his record as a juvenile that, no doubt, made teams think twice, or three or four times, before deciding he wasn’t worth the stress.

You see, Heimlich pleaded guilty at the age of 15 to molesting his niece when she was between four and six years old.

Heimlich denied the accusations in an interview with Sports Illustrated and told the magazine he only pleaded guilty to avoid causing more stress for his family.
It’s easy to see why teams passed on Heimlich despite his talent.
He’s a convicted sex offender, even though according to the Sports Illustrated article, many of his restrictions have been lifted. A sex crime is never right, but if he followed the terms of his plea deal, should his past ruin any chance he has at a professional baseball career?

If only the answer were that easy.

Any team that might draft Heimlich would face a public relations nightmare of having to explain the decision. But given how many sports teams and fans tend to forgive a player’s previous legal problems, is there some kind of middle ground if the player helps the team win? Brings awareness to a societal problem?
What if he tells a team that signs him that he will use his status to speak out about, in this case, sexual assault? Would that be enough? Would it even matter?

Heimlich may still end up with a team as a free agent since he was not drafted, but his road to the major leagues will certainly be covered in potholes.
At the end of the day, the futures of every player drafted remain uncertain and only a small handful, if that, will see lasting success in the majors.
Injuries happen.
Talent doesn’t translate to the Pro ranks.
Players get burned out struggling to play a game that always came easy.
But for Heimlich, his uncertainty is much more clear and making his major league dreams come true appears murkier than most.

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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images

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