At least four major league teams took Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich off their draft boards Thursday after an Oregonian report revealed that he pleaded guilty to molesting a 6-year-old girl when he was 15, major league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Heimlich, the best pitcher in college baseball this season, was expected to go within the first two rounds of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft on Monday until the report detailed his August 2012 conviction on one felony count of molestation. In a guilty plea, Heimlich, now 21, said “I admit that I had sexual contact” with the girl, a relative, at his home in Puyallup, Washington.
One American League general manager told Yahoo Sports his team “won’t go anywhere near” Heimlich following the report. Two other teams echoed those sentiments to Yahoo Sports, and Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told radio station 670-AM in Chicago that Heimlich “will be off our board, I think.” While another GM conceded his team was unlikely to fully remove Heimlich from its pool of potential picks, he said, “I can’t see us taking him.”
Multiple teams already knew of Heimlich’s sex-offender status through background checks, according to major league sources, though it’s unclear whether it prompted his removal from their draft boards.
After a pair of solid seasons for perennial college baseball powerhouse Oregon State, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound left-hander thrived this year with newfound fastball velocity that ticked up to the mid-90s. In 118 1/3 innings, he struck out 128, walked 22, did not allow a home run and posted a 0.76 ERA. The 52-4 Beavers are favorites to win their first championship since back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007.
Heimlich may still help in that pursuit. Oregon State coach Pat Casey told the Oregonian that Heimlich could pitch this weekend in the Beavers’ best-of-three super regional series with Vanderbilt. “I expect the potential he could be pitching this weekend,” Casey said.
While Washington state classifies Heimlich as a low-risk sex offender, according to the Oregonian report, he still needed to register with Oregon’s state-wide system. After having done so at least once, Heimlich let his registration lapse, and he was cited in April by the Benton County sheriff, placing his case in Oregon’s public-records database.
Court records obtained by the Oregonian said Heimlich was accused on molesting the girl over two periods of time: from September 2009 to September 2010 and September 2011 to December 2011. The girl told police Heimlich “touched her on both the inside and outside of the spot she uses to go to the bathroom,” according to the court records. The conviction stemmed from the latter incident.
Heimlich went to sex offender treatment, according to the Oregonian, and his probation was lifted in September 2014, during his freshman year at Oregon State.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Steelers kicker gets ejected from Stanley Cup Final
• Solving the $200M mystery of Japan’s Babe Ruth
• Sen. McCain blames D-backs for bizarre questions to Comey
• Chris Mannix: Cavs are doomed now and in the future