New Brewer Heckathorn: 'It's time to go'

The Brewers made Kyle Heckathorn an offer he just couldn’t refuse.

Heckathorn, a big right-hander from Kennesaw State University and the 47th overall pick in last month’s First-Year Player Draft, passed a physical at Miller Park on Saturday and finalized his first professional contract. It includes a $776,000 signing bonus, plus a rare invitation to big league camp next spring.

The Brewers don’t extend those invitations lightly to recent Draft picks. Matt LaPorta, Milwaukee’s first-round pick in 2007, wasn’t promised a spot, though he later got one. Rickie Weeks, the team’s top pick — second overall — in 2003, got an invitation, but that was because he signed a Major League contract. Prince Fielder was invited to camp after the Brewers selected him in the first round in 2002.

“Doug [Melvin, Milwaukee’s general manager] doesn’t easily give those out,” Brewers scouting director Bruce Seid said. “In this case, we felt that with what Kyle brings — his size, he’s mature, he’s smart — this was an ideal situation.” 

So Heckathorn, 21, who could have returned to college, instead joined a select list of Brewers Draft picks who made quick ascents to the Majors.

“They came up with the money, and then the invite to Spring Training, that was the capper,” said Heckathorn, who planned to splurge on a new pick-up truck. “That’s all I needed. They compromised, I compromised. Now it’s time to go. It’s time to start my professional career.”

He will report to rookie-level Helena on Monday. Heckathorn figures he’ll need a week or two to get back into pitching shape. 

“I’ve been running and throwing a lot,” he said, “trying to keep my arm strength up.”

Heckathorn went to Milwaukee in the supplemental phase of the Draft’s first round, the team’s second selection in the Draft behind first-rounder and fellow right-hander Eric Arnett. Like Arnett, the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Heckathorn is a power arm coming off his junior season in college. Club officials were not shy in the weeks leading up to the Draft in saying they were high on Heckathorn, who can reach 99 mph with his fastball but sits more comfortably in the 94-97 mph range, and also features a hard slider.

He was 4-1 with a 3.44 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 86 1/3 innings for Kennesaw State this season, including a 15-strikeout game. After the Draft, Brewers scouting director Bruce Seid said that the team intended to introduce Heckathorn to Minor Leagues as a starter.

“This is the best place for me,” Heckathorn said. “I’m lucky they got me and I’m fortunate to be a Brewer.”

With Heckathorn in the fold, 27 of the Brewers’ 53 selections are under contract including 14 of the first 17 picks.

Only one of the team’s first six picks remains unsigned ahead of the Aug. 17 deadline: University of Tennessee outfielder and fellow supplemental first-round pick Kentrail Davis, a Scott Boras client.

“Any time you’re dealing with Scott Boras, it’s always going to be a drawn-out situation,” Seid said. “But that’s not a negative; we just know that. We have a relationship with him. We’ll just continue to take steps forward.”

Davis was sophomore-eligible, meaning he could return to Tennessee for two more seasons.

Seid said the Brewers were still working to sign fourth-round pick Brooks Hall, a right-handed pitcher, and Florida State University outfielder D’Vontrey Richardson, the team’s fifth-round selection.

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