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Gunnar Heidt Developing Well at Third Base

Gunnar Heidt Developing Well at Third Base

March 14, 2016

Gunnar Heidt

Gunnar Heidt changed positions from SS to 3B in 2015. (Kyle Castle)

Making adjustments is a big part of baseball. With players consistency changing their approaches to certain pitchers and occasionally switching positions as well. Players have to report to the stadium every day with an open mind as they might be asked to try something new.

Understanding this concept first hand, infielder Gunnar Heidt has made tremendous changes to his game during the 2015 season.

Initially switching spots in the field during spring training, the organization had the 23-year old prospect taking reps at third base. Heidt a natural shortstop didn’t find this transition too difficult admitting there weren’t many differences outside of timing.

“I feel the transition to third is going really well,” stated Heidt. “Dan Banks and Mike Mordecai were up here earlier in the year helping me out. The transition has been pretty easy. The biggest difference is the reaction time to the ball coming off the bat.”

Known for being one of the best defenders in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system this transition made complete sense. With third being one of the most challenging positions in the game, it’s important to find a guy who can react quickly and make accurate throws across the diamond on routine ground balls.

Carrying a .970 fielding percentage in 390 1/3 innings at the hot corner in Lansing. Heidt took part in six double plays, while assisting on another 95. It was obvious that the South Carolina natives work during spring training paid off.

Heidt also has the ability to play second base and shortstop. While he’s more comfortable at short because that’s the position he grew up at as a child. The prospect admits he’s willing to play anywhere close to the action.

“I don’t really have a preference where I play,” explained Heidt. “I like shortstop because it’s my natural position. It’s the spot I played growing up. Playing third I like it now because that’s where I play the most right now. I’ll compete anywhere in the infield.”

The biggest obstacle at the moment for Heidt is finding consistency at the plate. A common issue with players adjusting to the better pitching you’ll face in professional baseball.

After only recording 34 hits in 189 at-bats in Lansing, Heidt understands that’s an area that will need improvement in the future. While he wasn’t completely satisfied with his offensive numbers in 2015, he feels he made some strides with his plate approach all season.

“You have to make a lot of adjustments to your plate approach in pro ball,” explained Heidt. “The pitchers are really good. They have plans, and you have to base yours around theirs. I’ve struggled a bit during the season. But I put some good swings on the ball. My approach is coming around.”

Assigned to Vancouver in the second half to pick up his game offensively; the coaches were primarily using Heidt as a designated hitter in the Northwest League. This was a great opportunity for Heidt to sharpen his skills for next season.

Registering 50 hits in 215 at-bats with the Canadians was a better outcome. Still with some work to do moving forward Heidt handled his reassignment in stride.

Whatever his coaches told him in the Northwest League worked well as the organization sent Heidt back to Lansing to take part in the Lugnuts’ playoff run. Arguably Lansing’s best hitter during the postseason, Heidt hit five doubles and a single in 17 at-bats.

Elevating his game to the competition in the postseason, Heidt used his experience from the Northwest League playoffs in 2014 as a measuring stick to what he was going to expect in the Midwest League playoffs.

“Anytime you get a chance to play playoff baseball you’ll remember it,” said Heidt. “The games are always different. The energy is there. The intensity is higher. That’s the way playoff baseball is every outing. Anytime you can get playoff experience it’ll be beneficial for your career.”

Showcasing his skills to their fullest in September, Heidt was finding the gaps in the outfield. That’s what he’s going to have to do to find continued success in the sport of baseball. Viewed more as a doubles hitter than a home run threat, Heidt has recorded 28 doubles, three triples, and four home runs between his two seasons of professional baseball.

Not too worried about the struggles in the batter’s box during the 2015 season. Lansing Lugnuts hitting coach Kenny Graham feels that fans haven’t seen the best of the versatile infielder just yet.

“Gunnar struggled a little bit out of the gate in his first full season,” stated Graham. “But Gunnar is in the cage every day. He works very hard. He’s consistently making improvements and he adjusted to the league. I think he’ll get hot at the plate soon.”

Fans can expect Heidt’s stock to rise a lot if his hitting coach is right. With plus defensive ability, increased offensive numbers could easily land the former College of Charleston standout in the show one day.

Supporters of the Toronto Blue Jays certainly hope that Gunnar Heidt can figure it all out in the upcoming seasons so they can see him making tough defensive plays look routine daily.

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian has covered professional baseball for eight seasons for numerous media outlets.
Brian Crawford