He has already pleaded guilty to sexually molesting his 6-year-old niece when he was 15 years old, and that stands in the way of him getting on a Major League roster
By Arnie Leshin
Just a short on Luke Heimlich because he deserves it.
He’s a senior on the 3rd ranked Oregon State baseball team that will play in the NCAA Division I Baseball World Series that begins Saturday in Omaha, Neb. He made a mistake and is suffering from it.
A southpaw, he’s proven just how talented he is. On the mound he’s been indisputable. Everything else about him, however, has become the touchstone for national debate.
Last year, he sat out the Beavers’ trip to Omaha amid revelations that as a 15-year-old, he pleaded guilty to sexually molesting his 6-year-old niece.
Because of this, not a single Major League team selected him last year in the college draft. This spring, even in the face of a pair of polarizing national profile stories, he posted a 15-1 record, but still went undrafted by MLB teams.
This year, he will be in Omaha, probably as the Beavers’ No.1 starting hurler. Will he be able to continue to tune out the scrutiny, even on the sport’s biggest stage? Teammates have said they will hit for him, field for him, even cheer for him, but they don’t have a pick in the college draft.
Head coach Pat Casey has taken a program that hadn’t been to Omaha in 53 years, and made it a CWS regular. It will be the Pac-12 school’s seventh berth in the CWS, making back-to-back trips for only the second time, the first when it won back-to-back World Series titles in 2006 and 2007.
Last year Oregon State’s players were clearly distracted by the Heimlich controversy. How will they handle that with him on the roster?
And will the Beavers be ready for a North Carolina team that has been forced to watch film of OSU dog piling at its expense for the past decade – plus?
As for Heimlich, Major League teams know just how good he is, but won’t pick him. He has a dazzling curve ball, good heat on his fastball, and includes a changeup and sometimes a slider.
Perhaps the young man deserves a break. No one is perfect. That was then, this is now.