The 25-year-old outfielder had a chance to make the big leagues in September
At the conclusion of the 2017 season, Texas Rangers outfield prospect Scott Heineman had a chance to reflect on the year.
The 25-year-old native of Pacific Palisades, California, hit .284 with nine home runs and 44 RBIs in 117 games for the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders. By no means was Heineman unhappy with his first season at the Double-A level, but he expected more.
“I felt like I had a good season last year at Double-A,” Heineman said. “Not as good as I am capable of, but still a good enough season to be promoted to Triple-A to start the year.”
The Rangers organization felt good enough about Heineman’s performance and invited the University of Oregon alum to his first big league spring training.
This experience ended up being a game changer. He got to interact with, learn from, and watch big league veterans and legends of the game go about their business, including future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre, all while at the same time working on his craft to take the next step forward towards his ultimate goal of playing in the big leagues.
“My goal was to meet a lot of the guys, learn their routines,” Heineman said. “To be in the same clubhouse as Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, all the veterans, kind of pick up whatever I could and be a sponge.”
An individual journey within a team game
Heineman learned a lot during his spring training stint with the Rangers. But Heineman picked up one thing in particular that helped propel him into a breakout 2018 season.
“Just finding your identity as a player,” Heineman said. “Obviously we see SportsCenter and see the biggest stars in the game, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, what they are capable of doing. It is a good thing for myself, that I see that and I strive to be that one day, but you have to find the balance between knowing your identity as a player and not trying to be Mike Trout, and instead being the best version of myself.”
Heineman has been constantly reminded of this, because like a lot of young players, he gets trapped from time to time wanting to change parts of his game to model Trout or some of the other really successful big leaguers, hoping that will help him.
“I do work hard to be the best that I can be and ultimately, I see those guys and that is what I want to be,” Heineman said. “It is important to listen to the people that have experienced it before, the good influences and that will put you in the best position to have success and get the most out of your potential.”
The 11th-round pick by the Rangers in the 2015 draft hit .295 with 11 home runs, 67 RBIs, 20 doubles and 16 stolen bases in 107 games with Triple-A Round Rock.
Among Rangers’ minor leaguers with 400 plate apperances, Heineman had the highest average (.306) and the second best slugging percentage (.445), OPS (.816) and BABIP (.361).
Handling adversity the right way
Heineman said ups and downs during a season come with the territory. But instead of trying to change his swing slightly to do more in a game like Trout, he realized that was not the right approach.
“You just have to believe in the process,” Heineman said. “I have good people around me with my teammates at Triple-A this year and the coaching staff was so great just to keep your head where it needs to be and not get too high or to0 low and remember what you need to focus on every day.”
Heineman said he is first and foremost a high energy guy, that is where his identity starts.
“I live at the ballpark,” Heineman said. “I am a single guy, obviously I have responsibilities outside of the ballpark, but my main responsibility is my career. I am the guy that if the clubhouse doesn’t open until 1:00 pm, I get there at 11:00 am just to be there and hang out.”
On the field, Heineman tries to go 100 percent all the time, but he has had to find when it is appropriate to give it his all and when it isn’t, so he does not get worn out by the end of a long season.
“I am someone who is going to make hard contact consistently, gap-to-gap power,” Heineman said. “I am guy who wants to get on base first and foremost. It is important for me to keep my strikeout numbers less and less each year, and once I get on base, someone who is going to wreak havoc when the game calls for it.”
In the field, Heineman said it is important to be able to play all three outfield positions.
Despite not being called up to the big leagues in September like many expected him to be, Heineman knows he is close. As a result, on top of sticking to what works for him, having his older brother, Tyler Heineman, who plays in the Brewers organization, around to talk too is a blessing.
“To follow in his footsteps and have him lead the way and experience these things that I am going through before me and be able to share his experiences with me, it has only helped me tremendously.”