Does Luke Heimlich deserve a second chance at his chosen career?
Not just yet, according to the 30 major league teams. Heimlich, the star Oregon State pitcher who pleaded guilty to molesting, when he was 15, a young relative, was not selected in the annual baseball draft that concluded Wednesday.
Heimlich now is eligible to sign with any team, but likely for a small fraction of what he would have commanded as a top draft pick. In 2008, the Angels signed pitcher Matt Shoemaker as an undrafted free agent for $10,000. Shoemaker made the major leagues in 2013.
The draft lasted 40 rounds, with 1,214 players selected.
On talent alone — the left-hander has a record of 26-2 with 270 strikeouts in 230 innings the last two seasons — Baseball America executive editor J.J. Callis said, Heimlich would have “fit in the 30-50 range,” which would have placed him late in the first round to early second round. The projected bonuses for those picks range from $1.4million to $2.3 million.
Six of Heimlich’s Oregon State teammates were selected, including infielder Nick Madrigal (fourth overall, with a recommended bonus of $6.4 million), outfielder Trevor Larnach (20th overall, $3.1 million) and infielder Cadyn Grenier (37th overall, $1.9 million).
On the eve of last year’s draft, the Oregonian obtained and published previously unreported court records that showed Heimlich was an admitted sex offender.
“I admit that I had sexual contact with [her],” he wrote in his guilty plea.
He was not drafted. He returned to Oregon State for his senior season, and he was selected as Pac-12 pitcher of the year, for the second consecutive year.
However, on the eve of this year’s draft, in interviews arranged with Sports Illustrated and the New York Times, Heimlich said he did not molest his relative.
He had maintained his innocence all along, he said, and accepted the guilty plea to eliminate the risk of incarceration, avoid putting the girl on the witness stand, and put his life back on a path toward normalcy.
“Nothing ever happened, so there is no incident to look back on,” he told the New York Times.
“There is no way he didn’t do it,” the girl’s mother told the New York Times.
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