There is two days left before the start of the Oregon State and Vanderbilt Super Regional, which is arguably the most exciting matchup of the Super Regionals this year. Today we will be discussing Luke Heimlich, a 6’1” lefty who has had a breakout season this year for the Beavers and is projected as a late first round pick. Being the ace on the number one ranked team in the nation will get you a lot of attention, and Heimlich has pitched well under the stress. Heimlich will have a tough matchup against Vanderbilt and it will be interesting to see how this series will go.
Going undrafted out of high school, Heimlich has gotten better every year he has played with the Beavers. In his freshman year, Heimlich came out of the bullpen, making 29 appearances for a total of 52.1 innings and 35/17(2.05) K/BB ratio and a 3.61 ERA. He was a swingman his sophomore year, he made 11 starts and improved both his ERA(3.53) and his K/BB(63/25) in 86.2 innings. This season so far, he has put in a near flawless season with a 0.76 ERA and has a 9.76 K/9 and an excellent 1.68 BB/9. His control has been outstanding, and he has been able to strikeout hitters even without outstanding velocity. Since he does not have overpowering stuff, it is critical that he has good control, and it is obvious that he does. His control over all of his pitches makes me believe that he will have success at the next level.
One of his many bright spots is his offspeed pitches. Both his changeup and his curveball are plus pitches and he has been able to use them effectively. Heimlich’s curveball has sweeping movement and does not have much late break to it, which might be a detractor based on how you view it. Personally, since he has good control of it, the lack of a late break does not bother me as much but it will be interesting to see. His changeup has been considered better by many scouts; it sits in the high 70’s low 80’s with lots of downward movement to it. They are both great pitches and it is hard to tell which is better.
His fastball has not reached the same levels that his offspeed offering have. The pitch is in the low 90’s and does not have much movement to it. Heimlich has been successful with it because of his plus control, but the pitch is not very intimidating. I do not see him being able to increase the velocity significantly, but I think he might be able to develop some more movement on the pitch. In my opinion, I think that his fastball has the potential to be a slightly above average pitch, but nothing too dominant.
My forecast for Heimlich is that he has a ceiling to grow into a middle of the rotation pitcher. He already has great control overall all of his pitches, as well as having two plus offspeed pitches, which is rare for a college pitcher. The one concern is his fastball, but as long as he is able to have the same level of control of his pitches in the pros as he is in college, I think he will be fine even without an overpowering fastball. He was slated to go in the 3rd or 4th round at the start of the year, but I would be surprised if he is still on the board after pick 40.