Thursday, June 7, 2018

Feeling a draft, Day 3

The third and final day of the baseball draft deals in quantity, not quality. Picks 11 through 40 occasionally produce major league players, but rarely stars, and many high schoolers taken on the third day decline to sign and go to college.

So in a very real sense, the biggest thing to happen Wednesday was something that didn't happen. Nobody took Luke Heimlich, Oregon State's ace lefty who pleaded guilty years ago to molesting his niece.

Heimlich now denies what he admitted in court as a juvenile, and his record officially has been expunged. On talent alone, he was worthy of at least a second-round pick, perhaps higher, but no front office thought him worth the risk to their reputations.

This, frankly, surprises me. We've seen this repeatedly in pro sports: The highest moral virtue is winning. I expected somebody to, at the very least, take him in the third day. And nobody did.

Presumably no owner, no general manager, no scouting director wanted to take the risk. Heimlich is now too notorious to fly under the radar. No farm director could relish his inevitable quotes in the inevitable story in whatever town Heimlich was assigned to play in: "Admitted child molester to pitch here." And if that blowback is insufficiently intimidating, imagine the blowback if Heimlich got into trouble again.

It's possible that Heimlich will get a free-agent offer from somebody. Perhaps he'll find an independent league team to pitch for. Or perhaps his baseball days end with this collegiate season -- the Beavers, with three first-round picks even excluding Heimlich, play Minnesota this week in a NCAA superregional for a berth in the College World Series.

My personal hope is that his baseball days end with a loss to the Gophers.

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