After Yale lost to Oregon State in the NCAA Regional in Corvallis, Ore., on June 8th, Coach John Stuper called Luke Heimlich the best pitcher he has ever seen in college baseball during the 24 years he has been at the helm of the Bulldogs. He expressed the belief that he could step into a Major League role right now and become valuable to some team during its late-season pennant drive.
Stuper even was able to joke that Yale was the victim of a Heimlich maneuver, a medical technique to stop a person from choking.
Expectations were high for Heimlich
Before the First-Year Player Draft earlier this week the junior lefthander was predicted by Baseball America to be the 43rd overall pick. Not only did that fail to happen, but he wasn’t picked at all in any of the 40 rounds. Meanwhile, another pitcher on Oregon State, Drew Rasmussen, was taken in the first round, 31st overall, by Tampa Bay.
Yale faced Rasmussen, a redshirt right-hander, the night after losing to Heimlich and scored a run off him in the first inning. In four innings, the Bulldogs reached Rasmussen for five hits and he was then taken out.
Heimlich was a first-team All-American with a 0.81 earned run average and has an 11-1 record after beating Yale, which was the last game he pitched.
Several players were selected from Oregon State, the #1 team in the country, but Heimlich was not among them. It became evident that more than baseball may have been the reason.
I decided to check some Oregon sources and found a possible cause for his not being drafted, a cause that I hardly expected to see. It was that in 2012 Heimlich had pleaded guilty to one count of child molestation as a teenager the previous year when he was age 15. He is now registered as a low-risk sex offender (Oregonian/OregonLive).
Heimlich did not pitch for the No. 1 Beavers (54-4) during their super regional sweep of Vanderbilt. He released a statement, through his attorney, that he did not want to be a distraction to his team and had asked to be excused from playing “at this time.”
Oregon State University’s role
The Portland Tribune reported Wednesday that Heimlich’s decision came after “strong suggestions by university officials that participation wouldn’t be in the best interest of the individual or school.” The paper did not cite a source for that information.
The next game for Oregon State, now an incredible 54-4, is against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Coach is upset but stands behind his ace
Coach Pat Casey said that “”I’m praying for him, his family, anybody that was involved in that matter, especially the little girl. It’s just sad that they are going through the suffering again as a family.”
He added that Heimlich is a “fine young man, and for every second that he has been on this campus, on and off the field, he’s been a first-class individual, someone that his family should be proud of, your community should be proud of, our team is proud of, I believe in Luke.”
MLB will have to decide
The question that remains is whether a Major League baseball team will also believe in him. So far, none has come forward. With his talent, he may still be helping a team this year in its stretch run. The team that picks him, however, will have to consider his past.