Saturday, June 14th, 2008
Heyne getting ready to start pro career with Padres
Coldwater graduate leaves Monday for Arizona after getting picked by San Diego in Major League Baseball Draft last week
By Gary R. Rasberry
Kyle Heyne knew he was going to play pro baseball.
Where and for which team was the question.
The Coldwater native had that question answered last Friday as he was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 32nd round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, the 975th selection of the 50-round draft.
Heyne, who capped off a stellar career as the closer for Ball State this past spring, heads to Peoria, Arizona on Monday, the training complex of the Padres and home to the the organization's Arizona Rookie League team.
Rather than being tied to a telephone over the two days of the draft, Heyne was watching his alma mater play in the Division III state semifinals on Friday in Columbus when he got the call from Padres scout Jeff Stewart that Heyne had been drafted.
"I was trying to relax as much as I could," said Heyne during a Friday telephone interview. "I ended up getting the call. I had a feeling the Padres were going to be the one selecting me. Finally, Jeff Stewart gave me a call and congratulated me."
Having be drafted in 2007 as a junior, in the 27th round by the Minnesota Twins, Heyne had an idea about the contract procedure. The fact that he was done with school and was going to be pitching somewhere made the contract process much easier.
"It really didn't matter. I just wanted to be picked," said Heyne. "I was nervous all day. I justed wanted to be picked and have it over with because I knew I was going to go and play, I didn't have a chance to go back to school. I was ready to get the phone call and start on signing the contract and head on out.
"Met with the scout on Tuesday and went over some things, signed the contract, had my flight planned and told me I was leaving on Monday. Was pretty basic because he knew and I knew I'm leaving this time. It was pretty simple."
When it came to checking out what it would be like in the minor league system, Heyne had plenty of reference resources, former teammates at Ball State helped out.
"I've got a bunch of my buddies playing pro ball now that I played with at Ball State," said Heyne. "I talked to them and I was always online checking out how they were all doing. It's nice to be able to have somebody to talk to."
Heyne also had plenty of contact with old friend Cory Luebke, the Marion Local graduate currently pitching in the Padres organization in the California League. Heyne mentioned that he and Luebke have made plenty of phone calls and trading text messages.
"I talked to him a lot," said Heyne. "I think he's as excited as I am about having me in the organization.
"It's kind of weird, you don't expect anything like that (two local players in the same organization) when you're growing up. We've known each other since we were old enough to talk, probably, with our dads (Bob Heyne and Jeff Luebke) playing softball against each other. It's kind of cool, not something you really think of when you're having the opportunity. That one chance ended up working out."
Heyne leaves Ball State as the all-time saves leader in Mid-American Conference history with 32 saves. His 100 appearances for the Cardinals is most in school history. This past season, Heyne was 4-4 with a 1.34 ERA and eight saves on the season, recording 31 strikeouts in 401/3 innings over 27 apperances. The Cardinals went 28-25 and went 1-2 in the MAC Tournament in Chillicothe. Heyne was named first-team All-MAC
While he has not heard anything from the team yet, Heyne, who was a starter in high school before becoming a closer in college, will likely stay a relief specialist.
"The scout said I would stay in the same role I was in college," said Heyne. "I see myself as a specialist or reliever."