KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore is thinking about signing a college pitcher some say is one of the best. However, Luke Heimlich's past has thrown interested Major League teams a curveball.
Heimlich is poised to help Oregon State University as it opens championship play at the College World Series on Monday. It has been widely reported the ace pitcher is also a convicted sex offender.
Given his pitching pedigree, under normal circumstances he would have a shot at the major leagues - but his conviction has held many teams back. Now, the Royals are pondering signing the pitcher.
It was a stunning revelation through The Oregonian. After Heimlich failed to show up for court, the newspaper found through an investigation that he pleaded guilty to one count of child molestation when he was 15 years old. The victim is his niece who was 6 at the time.
Heimlich is considered one of the best pitchers in college baseball, but he went un-drafted earlier this month. The Royals are thinking of signing him as a free agent.
"We do believe in the player and the person in Luke Heimlich. It's just more complex than that as we try to gather information," Moore told the media.
"Character is extremely important to this organization, but so is second chances. We give a lot of second chances at this organization. So again, we'll see, we'll see how it all plays out," said manager Ned Yost.
Fans are on the fence about bringing Heimlich to Kauffman Stadium.
"I believe in second chances, but that one, if it's - that would be tough," said fan Seth Black.
"I would anticipate that they would probably stay away from him. I would think most of our fans would appreciate it if they did," said fan Brendan Gary.
Julie Donelon with the Metro Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) says when youth abuse children they can be rehabilitated.
"It's a very low percentage of youth when they get treatment, and they get the support that they need, and their families have that support that they go on to abuse as an adult," Donelon said.
However, Donelon stresses that all situations are different. Moore believes at least Heimlich 'the player' deserves to be on the mound.
"I think the player has earned an opportunity to play professional baseball. Again, based on what he has, how he's conducted himself since we've known him for four or five years, and how he's performed on the baseball field," Moore said. "The truth of the matter is, I was hoping as the general manager that someone else would draft and sign him. Maybe I don't have enough courage, I don't know."
Moore says they are still gathering information on Heimlich and the organization is still coming to grips with the situation.