The hard-throwing right-hander, Ben Heller (Whitewater, Wis.), who struck out 260 batters in his career has become the 23rd player in Olivet Nazarene University history to play professionally. Heller was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 22nd round with the 651st pick on Saturday, June 8. He is the first former Tiger drafted in the MLB First-Year Player Draft since Ben Zobrist (184th pick) in 2004 by the Houston Astros.
Heller had this to say about his accomplishment, “I feel extremely blessed by God to have provided me this opportunity. It is amazing to see my years of hard work pay off, this is really a dream come true.”
Heller was one of 37 players on NAIA teams drafted and the 15th taken. Also, there were nine players who participated in the 2013 NCCAA World Series drafted through the first 26 rounds.
During his senior campaign for the Tigers, he has been named to his first All-NCCAA North Central Region Team and All-CCAC Second Team. Heller appeared in 17 games and finished with an 8-4 record. He started 13 games and threw four complete games with one shutout. He pitched a total of 81 2/3 innings and had a 3.42 ERA. He allowed 70 hits, 48 runs (31 earned), 36 walks and had 79 strikeouts.
Olivet Nazarene University head baseball coach, Todd Reid commented on Heller being drafted. “We are extremely proud of and excited for Ben. He worked so hard to give himself a chance to play at the next level, it’s good to finally see his dreams come true. It’s a great sign for our program as well. This caps another great year for Tiger Baseball and drives us to see what’s next for our program.”
Following Heller’s four years he is now second all-time among Tigers in four categories: wins (26), appearances (61), innings pitched (301.1), and strikeouts (260).
Later this week, Heller, listed at 6 feet, 3 inches and 205 pounds, will head to Naples, Ohio, to play for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a Class A short-season affiliate of the Indians. It's a level above rookie league ball.
The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft began in 1965. It now consists of 40 rounds and 1216 picks and was conducted this year June 6-8 on MLB.com.