Two months removed from going undrafted in the 2018 MLB Draft, it appears Luke Heimlich has made no headway in becoming a professional baseball player in America, and will head overseas.
The recent Oregon State University graduate was one of the best pitchers in college baseball last year, but he’s also a convicted child molester, which has deterred MLB teams from adding him to their roster.
In early 2017, a story in The Oregonian revealed Heimlich pleaded guilty to molesting his 6-year-old niece when he was 15. He was not drafted through all 40 rounds of both last year and this year’s draft, despite having early-round potential.
Since his conviction came to light, Heimlich has insisted that he is innocent, and took poor legal advice in the name of simplifying matters for his family.
Rumors that Major League teams, including the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles, were considering signing as a free agent him have cropped up since, to no avail. A number of team executives told Yahoo Sports that they were worried about the potential for backlash, despite consulting with MLB officials on how best to address the situation.
Heimlich to play in Chinese League?
Tuesday, the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League announced that they signed Heimlich, and that he is already in Taiwan, where the league is based.
The announcement does not make reference to his criminal record. However, the post has drawn a lot of mixed attention, amassing nearly 1000 comments nine hours after it was posted. Many of the comments commend the team on signing a top talent, despite his unsavory moral history. However, it’s also clear that some of the fans don’t know about that history, as in the following exchange:
The Chinese Professional Baseball League is home to the highest level of players in Taiwan, and includes foreign players from Japan and minor-league players from MLB. Players on average make between $5,000 and $12,000 a month, but foreign players specifically have been known to make substantially more. However, the league has had a number of game-fixing and gambling scandals over the past two decades that have lowered its credibility.
Will the CPBL allow Heimlich to play?
According to reports the team or league have yet to confirm, Heimlich’s deal with the Monkeys may be blocked due to his criminal record.
The veto would be unsurprising, as last year, the Chinatrust Brothers (another CPBL team) signed American minor leaguer Kyle Simon to a contract, but it was quickly voided before his arrival due to his history of drug abuse.
The Monkeys also have a history of coming down strong on sex abuse charges; in 2017, the team allegedly terminated the contract of 2013 Rookie of the Year Chiu-Yen Kuo after he faced attempted rape charges.
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