Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich, the MLB prospect who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his niece in 2012, went unpicked on the final day of the MLB Draft this year, as every major-league team passed on him over the course of 40 rounds. For the time being, at least, it appears that the majors have shut him out.
Heimlich’s guilty plea, which occurred when he was 15 years old, was only discovered in June 2017, when The Oregonian reported that he was a registered sex offender. Heimlich had already been named Pac 12 Pitcher of the Year for 2017, but stepped away from OSU for the postseason (though he returned for 2018). In an interview with the New York Times a month before this year’s draft, Heimlich denied that he was guilty, saying of the plea deal, “(It) was a decision me and my parents thought was the best option to move forward as a family.”
Heimlich was rated the 44th-best prospect in the draft by Fangraphs, and, excluding the high-schoolers who passed on the draft to play college ball, he is by far the highest-ranked player not to get picked. But though he had the talent of an early rounder, Heimlich was far from a sure thing as a major-league pitcher, and the idea of a player so controversial attracting massive negative attention in Low-A ball was unsurprisingly a scary thought for any franchise. While he could still get signed as a free agent, every team appears to have so far decided that Heimlich isn’t worth the trouble.