Throughout the season, Orioles Nation will highlight prospects as we see them play or are given reports by Scouts and people within the baseball industry. Our staff will have eyes on the Orioles’ prospects at all times, and you can find the latest updates for them in the Prospect Watch.
Jonah Heim – C
The Orioles took a flier on a raw, yet talented prospect out of upstate New York. Jonah Heim was one of the youngest players drafted in 2013, but the Orioles clearly saw some talent when they decided to snag him in the 4th round. While many may look at his stats and turn away, it is very important to remember something – statistics are practically worthless to look at for a player in the GCL. Your eyes will tell a much better story than the stat sheet at this stage of a players’ career.
Like I mentioned already, Heim is very young. With youth often comes the word “raw”. Heim has a great frame and I am hearing that he has added 15 lbs or so already. The early reports are good, and Heim is doing his best to remind the Orioles and other evaluators that Chance Sisco is not the only catching prospect in the lower minors (and Alex Murphy too).
Heim has a well-trained eye for a player fresh out of high school. The approach is solid and he has a good idea of what to do at the plate. There is some dormant power and I think he could surprise some this season with it. It is a little early for me to slap a grade on the power, but I could see solid-average ability there. Last year, there were some contact concerns, but nothing that was out of the ordinary. Of course, I will routinely go back to the fact that he is very young and these are natural issues with prospects at this stage. The biggest issue with the bat in the pros will always be whether they can make the correct adjustments. I have heard that Heim started to flash these adjustments at the end of the season.
On defense, I truly believe Heim is the best defensive catcher out of the trio drafted last season (Heim, Sisco, Murphy). He has the best chance of sticking behind the plate and is a good athlete. Heim has average footwork right now, but there is certainly room for improvement. He has solid instincts and with a little more improvement in footwork and framing, he could be solid behind the dish. The arm is average, but nothing to dissuade anyone from him sticking at catcher. It has also been noted to me that most of the passed balls he allowed were from knuckleball pitchers (Zach Staniewicz had 10 passed balls in 32.0 innings).
The numbers from last season do not show his talent, but that is why I said numbers are mostly invalid for judging talent in the lower minors. The early reports on Heim seem to be solid. I originally thought Heim would start in extended and then the GCL. He probably still starts at one of those places, but it is not set in stone at this time. However, if a player impresses enough, they can always move quicker than originally anticipated. Look out for Heim down the road, he could end up surprising.