October 16, 2016
One of the most impressive stories of the Blue Jays minor league season was the emergence of infielder Gunnar Heidt in the batter’s box.
Finishing his season with a .263/.345/.419 slash line in 391 at-bats between the Lansing Lugnuts and Dunedin Blue Jays was great to see from a guy that was struggling to find consistency at the plate prior to 2016.
The prospect did more than just improve his line though, as he also increased his entire production. Recording 28 doubles, three triples, and nine home runs on the season was a promising sign that Heidt was figuring things out in professional baseball.
Heidt’s increased production came from the adjustments he made at the conclusion of his 2015 season in Vancouver. Implementing a leg kick into his game in the Northwest League has paid dividends for the 24-year old infielder.
“They implemented a leg kick to my game in Vancouver,” explained Heidt. “I got comfortable with the change at the end of the 2015 season. I came back to Lansing for the playoffs last year and had success with it. I’ve continued to use the leg kick during this past season and had success with it as well, so I’m going to keep it going.”
Also putting a stronger emphasis on hitting for power has helped Heidt achieve the production numbers he has been looking for in professional baseball.
“I wanted to drive the ball a little bit more this year, so I hit the gym pretty hard,” stated Heidt. “The leg kick makes it easier for me to get a little more out of my lower half. I’ve just been thinking drive the ball more offensively and it’s been working.”
Impressed by the leadership skills that Heidt brings to the ballpark every night. Lansing Lugnuts hitting coach Donnie Murphy feels the prospect has a bright future in the sport.
“Gunnar left us early. But he’s a natural leader,” stated Murphy. “Gunnar has a lot of tools that he hasn’t tapped into yet and he still has room for improvements. But Gunnar got better this year and I believe he has a bright future.”
Showing versatility defensively, Heidt competed at three different positions in 2016. Beginning the year at second base, the prospect needed to get reacclimated to the position after not playing it much since college.
“I feel comfortable at second base, as I played there a little bit in college,” said Heidt. “It’s an easy position. I just needed to get some reps there after playing at third in 2015.”
“I just needed to gain a little confidence there this year.”
Finding that confidence didn’t take long as Heidt maintained a .972 fielding percentage at second in 40 games between the low-A and high-A levels.
The prospect also competed in 48 games at shortstop his natural position and another 17 games at third as a member of the Dunedin Blue Jays. Posting his best numbers at short, Heidt maintained a .979 fielding percentage, while taken part in 17 double plays, and assisting on another 123 at the challenging position.
But no matter where Heidt plays defensively in the upcoming seasons; his increased production at the plate will help him advance through the levels quicker.
Fans will want to continue to follow Gunnar Heidt’s progress next season as he could be a real sleeper in the Toronto Blue Jays system.