Luke Heimlich is one of the top prospects in the Major League Baseball draft taking place this week. He’s also a convicted child molester who will undoubtedly cause publicity headaches for whichever team drafts him, Yahoo Sports is reporting.
The left-hander with a 97 mph fastball would be the envy of any Major League Baseball team. The Oregon State pitcher is statistically the best player available for the draft, according to a June 2017 report in The Oregonian. And indeed, last year he was in talks with the Baltimore Orioles to become an unsigned free agent. Those talks fell through, and Heimlich is back on the market.
Unfortunately, he brings with him some baggage. As The Oregonian reported in June, back in 2012, when Heimlich was 15, he pleaded guilty to molesting a 6-year-old relative. Specifically, the relative told police that Heimlich had “touched her on both the inside and outside of the spot she uses to go to the bathroom.” Heimlich was required to register as a sex offender in Washington, where the crimes occurred, which he did. However, when he moved to Oregon to play for the Beavers, he apparently failed to update his status as required – which resulted in an on-campus arrest.
As it turns out, neither the NCAA nor Oregon State has any specific laws barring convicted felons from competing at the college level, and indeed, the university doesn’t even ask student-athletes to disclose felony convictions before playing.
Heimlich’s criminal past has almost certainly cost him when it comes to being drafted into the majors. As Yahoo Sports reported in 2017, at least four Major League teams took him off of their draft boards after his conviction was revealed during a background check. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told a Chicago radio station that Heimlich was, at the time, all but off the table. Similarly, on American League GM, who asked that his name not be used, said that Heimlich wasn’t likely to be picked up by his team either.
Still, though his draft prospects have been hurt considerably by his past, he’s still likely to be drafted in the third through 10th rounds, rather than in the first round.
One MLB executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, expected any backlash generated by a team signing Heimlich to only last about 48 hours, during which the team will point out that Heimlich is considered a “low-level” sex offender according to Washington law, and that the recidivism rate for this type of crime is “extremely low.”