Weekly Feature



2012-12-05 / Sports

Heim’s baseball dream starts to become reality

¦ Amherst senior signs with Michigan State
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter


Amherst’s Jonah Heim, seated, signed a letter of intent with Michigan State University Friday morning. Standing from left, are: Athletic Director Patrick Murphy, Amherst varsity baseball coach Brian Davis, Academy Stars Baseball coach Justin Santonocito and Amherst varsity baseball assistant coach Chris Dolce. Amherst’s Jonah Heim, seated, signed a letter of intent with Michigan State University Friday morning. Standing from left, are: Athletic Director Patrick Murphy, Amherst varsity baseball coach Brian Davis, Academy Stars Baseball coach Justin Santonocito and Amherst varsity baseball assistant coach Chris Dolce. Jonah Heim’s dream is to play major league baseball. Competing for a big-time Division I college is the first step.

The Amherst senior signed a national letter of intent with Michigan State University on Friday morning.

Heim, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound catcher, was also looking at Ohio State, Marshall and Maryland, but once he visited Michigan State, he knew that was going to be home.

“I fell in love with it,” Heim said. “They’re a good baseball team, the campus is really nice and they have what I was looking for in academics [majoring in engineering].”

Heim has dominated in his two years with the Tigers.

As a sophomore, he set a single season school record with a .500 batting average, and also led in slugging percentage (.674), hits (23) and RBIs (17), and was third in runs (16).

As a junior, he led the Tigers in slugging percentage (.714), on-base percentage (.488), home runs (2) and RBIs (27) and was second in batting average (.400), hits (28), runs (23) and triples (three).

He was almost flawless behind the plate, recording a .967 field percentage, and was an effective relief pitcher, recording a 3-0 record, two saves, 15 strikeouts and 2.42 ERA.

Heim was named an ECIC Division III First Team All-Star as a sophomore and ECIC III Second Team honors as a junior.

He was named the team’s Offensive MVP as a sophomore and co-Offensive MVP and Defensive MVP as a junior.

Heim is the second-ranked catcher and the 10th-ranked overall player in New York and 47th in the nation according to Perfect Game, a baseball scouting service.

Amherst baseball coach Brian Davis said Heim has all of the tools to play at the Division I level.

“He can switch hit, hit for power and he’s got a great arm, but it’s the intangibles are what make him the best,” Davis said. “He’s got so much baseball sense. In games, it’s like he has a coach’s eye. He picks up things you would think a player would not pick up in the middle of a game. I’m very excited for him. He’s a great kid.”

Heim is going to a great baseball program. Two years ago, Michigan State won the Big Ten. Last season, the Spartans won 37 games — the third-most wins in program history — and advanced to the NCAA Tournament where they were eliminated by Fresno State in the Stanford Regional.

“Jonah Heim is an immediate difference maker,” Spartans coach Jake Boss said in a statement on the MSU website. “He’s a 6-4 catcher who switch hits and will hit it for some power. He’s very good defensively and has a chance to be an outstanding player here and have a long career in the game of baseball. He’s a guy that we’re extremely excited about because he can catch, he can play first base, but offensively, he is ready right now and he has only begun to scratch the surface of his abilities and potential. A switch hitter that’s 6-4 and 195 pounds is pretty special. Jonah is an outstanding leader as well, and another young man who will only make our program and university better.”

Justin Santonocito, Heim’s travel coach with Academy Stars Baseball, said his perception of Heim changed in the summer at the University of Cincinnati Pastime Tournament. At the tournament, Heim hit .800 and was named Tournament MVP.

“I’ve never seen a kid take over a tournament like he did,” Santonocito said. “The last three games we faced probably six pitchers who were committed to Division I schools. It really turned my thoughts on him. I knew he was talented, but it was a matter of putting the talent into a game situation. I have never really seen anything like it.”

There is a good chance that Michigan State will not be Heim’s last stop playing baseball. Heim said has received interest from 15 pro teams, including the San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.

“That is the ultimate goal,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting. Getting a chance to play professional baseball has been a dream for a long time.”

email: pnagy@beenews.com

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