2023 MLB Draft Profile: Jeffrey “Mac” Heuer

April 9, 2023

Based on some early 2023 MLB Draft rankings, it seems likely that most of you don’t know very much about Mac Heuer just yet.

Stay tuned.

The big 18-year-old righty is on the board, sure, but will likely only continue to climb given his upside and the improvements he’s already made to his game since the last time the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series saw him, which was at the Caribbean Classic, when he was touching 97 miles per hour with a heavy fastball.

That, you probably know.

Something you may not, however, is the development of his slider as a potential third pitch, which will, at minimum, elongate his profile as a starter in pro ball should he choose to go that route this summer, or will give him another lethal option out of the rotation at Texas Tech, where he’s currently committed.

Praised by Future Stars Series scouts for his ability to pound the zone with all of his offerings, Heuer debuted the slider in game action at the Main Event at Fenway Park, where he racked up five strikeouts, and with the continued development of that offering, says he’s an improved pitcher over the already polished product we saw last year.

“I think it’s gotten a lot better,” he said. “My feel for it has definitely improved, and then I think before, it was more just throwing it for a strike and getting hitters off my fastball. Now, it’s more of a strikeout pitch that I know I can go to when it’s 2-2 and I need to get a guy out of there.”

A key part of his development has a whole has been Johnny Magliozzi, who has worked with Heuer at various points on the travel ball circuit, including as the bullpen coach on Heuer’s team at the Main Event. The two continue to work together this spring, with Heuer having nothing but glowing reviews.

“He’s been life-changing,” Heuer said. “Ever since that first phone call with him, he’s changed my whole trajectory. Without him, none of this would be possible. He fixed some mechanical things in our first bullpen that pushed me from 86-88 (MPH) to 92-93, touching 94 during that 16U fall. He changed my life overnight, almost. He’s been a role model for me.”

Something else you may know about Heuer? Yes, “home school” next to his name when you’re looking up his most recent outings is accurate, and something that he’s done since fifth grade. An extremely polished student and well-rounded young man off the field, Heuer’s family made the decision to go that route given a school system in the area that hasn’t always had the best reputation, and also was challenging from a baseball standpoint, as he’s based roughly two hours out of Atlanta, which made finding strong competition difficult.

Furthermore, Heuer’s involvement on his 200-acre family ranch, Delta H Ranch, in showing livestock — primarily angus cattle and sheep — has been able to continue, as has his interest in showing lambs and pigs through 4-H.

“We traveled all around the country, basically my whole life, going to sales or going to shows,” Heuer said.  “My brother and I, we run a meat business, so the lambs that don’t make the sale for the 4-H kids, they’ll go into our feed lot, and we’ll feed them out until they’re market weight, and we’ll take them to slaughter and sell to restaurants in Atlanta.”

Balancing it all, Heuer says, has been challenging, but something he’s enjoyed in making sure he’s able to have a life outside of just baseball, although he’s relied on his brother to help out on the farm when he’s been away on some travel ball trips.

One way or another, he’ll be away from home more frequently soon, however.  The college route is an appealing one, as he connected with the coaching staff at Texas Tech right away during a recruiting process in which there were plenty of suitors.

“(The coach) called me up and we probably talked about a month or two before he even saw me in a game,” Heuer recalls. “Then he saw me for the first time in Jupiter my junior year. Following that, I took my visit out there and I fell in love with it. It’s really country, and the coaching staff, they kind of grew up in the same situation I am; they’re farm kids who fell in love with baseball, so it was really a perfect fit for me.”

Of course, if Heuer does end up getting taken in the MLB Draft — surely a matter of “where” and not “if,” barring any unforeseen circumstances this summer — he can end up anywhere in the country, which would also be a welcome change, and something he’s given some consideration to despite being months out from having to make any sort of formal decision.

“Just a little bit,” he said. “I try to keep things even keel and not go too far one way or another. If it’s destined to happen, it’s going to happen, but if it’s not, I’m going to go to school and hopefully have a great career there and see what happens after that. (Getting drafted) has been a dream of mine since I can remember, so not thinking about that, it is challenging, but I don’t want to get to up in my feels about it.”

With that MLB Draft date approaching, however — this year’s takes place between July 17-19 in Seattle — Heuer has certainly noticed an increase of scouts flocking to his outings, although he’s no stranger to it already, with nearly every MLB team having already been present in the Dominican Republic to take in a few innings down there with the Future Stars Series.

“The attention is getting a little bit more ramped up as I prove myself,” he said. “Especially during warmups when you don’t have a batter in there (you notice it), and it’s hard to not notice how many guys are back there and how many radar guns are pointed at you. But, when the batter steps in, you kind of just lock in.”

Heuer, who struck out 15 batters over five innings of work in one of those recent outings this spring, is ranked 199th on the Future Stars Series MLB Draft board, and is in somewhat similar positions elsewhere. With it being almost impossible to avoid seeing that type of content in the age of social media, he takes a mature approach to dealing with it all.

“I try not to read into it too much, because I know everybody is going to have an opinion on me; some people are going to be higher on me, some people aren’t going to like me,” he said. “So, I’ll read it, and I’ll move on. I don’t think too much about it. I haven’t really been a high-follow guy for many years, really since 17U, I haven’t been on PG’s top list or any of that, so I’ve stayed under the radar a little bit in that aspect.”

What changed, then? Now listed at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Heuer says he had growth plate problems growing up, and was never able to pitch over a full season until his 16U year, advised by doctors to shut it down as to avoid significant injury as his body was still sorting itself out. With that having resolved itself, working with Magliozzi helped increase the scouting from colleges, as did the 97’s he was starting to pop up on their radar guns, something he’s taken some enjoyment in seeing.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said through a smile. “Sometimes, you worry about letting one fly, but it’s a good feeling that you can just throw it by people sometimes when you really need to. Later in the summer, though, I really worked on developing that slider. I debuted it at Fenway for the first time in-game, and that’s always a little more challenging, when you know you need to work on stuff to make yourself better long-term, especially when, in the back of your mind, I know I can just throw a fastball by this kid and be done with it. That’s always kind of hard to take into consideration, but for the most part, I can just kind of lean back and throw it by people.”

It’s something we saw him do quite often last year, starting with the National Combine in Lake Charles, where he earned the invitation to Boston and then the Dominican. Facing some of the top amateur hitters in the country was something Heuer relished, and also something that was important for his Draft stock as well, given how well he performed on a more of a national stage.

While that’s all well and good, however, it’s the experiences he had at those events, particularly Fenway Park, that he’ll carry with him for quite some time.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “To stand on the mound and just turn around and see the (Green) Monster sitting there, it looks big on TV, but it looks like a skyscraper when you’re on the mound. Just that whole atmosphere, it wasn’t packed, but the energy there was unlike anything I’d ever been a part of. I tried to (soak it in). It kind of got quick there at the end, but it was awesome to see everything and see that history.”

One day, if everything goes according to plan, Heuer will one day get to pitch there as a professional, having come a long way from earning the nickname “Crash” after a clumsy childhood incident with a dirtbike to becoming a polished pitcher who should only continue to climb up draft boards as the big day starts to approach.

“I think about it almost every night when I’m laying in bed, just the people I’ve been able to meet and getting to be with so many good teammates,” he said. “It’s been awesome, and I can’t wait to see what my future has in store for me.”

Mike Ashmore
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