The beauty of the advisory board for the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series is the diverse array of baseball backgrounds that it has, not to mention current positions.
All extraordinarily bright minds in the game, all took extraordinarily different paths to get there.
After a short playing career as a catcher in the Oakland Athletics system, Bobby Heck has found incredible success in Major League Baseball as a scout and front-office executive, climbing the ranks in multiple organizations while leaving tangible evidence of improvement in each.
Heck first served as an area scout for the Texas Rangers for five years and scouted most of the core group of the Milwaukee Brewers early 2010’s teams like Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder during his stay in their organization as their Eastern Scouting Supervisor from 2000-2007.
But his biggest impacts were yet to come.
He joined the Houston Astros as their scouting director prior to the start of the 2008 season, and slowly built the team through incredible drafts; Heck oversaw the selections of Jason Castro, Jordan Lyles, J.D Martinez, Delino DeShields Jr., Mike Foltynewicz, Vincent Velasquez, George Springer, Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Preston Tucker, Kike Hernandez, Dallas Keuchel and Brett Phillips to name a few.
Although most of those may seem like obvious talents now, that wasn’t always the case. For example, Martinez was a steal in the 20th round in 2009 and has since gone on to be a four-time All-Star and one of the game’s true star players, albeit now doing so with the Boston Red Sox.
Keuchel? He was a seventh-rounder in that same 2019 Draft, and developed into a Cy Young Award winner.
Heck, who earned an assistant GM title with Houston, was inexplicably let go by the Astros after the 2012 season, but remains a beloved figure by the Astros fanbase thanks to the impact he ultimately had on the franchise; according to Baseball Reference, 11 of the 25 players on Houston’s 2015 postseason roster were drafted during his stay as the team’s scouting director, and numerous others were acquired via deals for players that Heck oversaw selecting.
He since has joined the Tampa Bay Rays organization as a special assistant to the general manager, and has helped steer that franchise into prominence in a similar fashion; the Rays are universally regarded as having one of the best, if not the best, farm systems in all of baseball. Accordingly, Heck’s name comes up often when prominent player personnel-related roles become available, perhaps most recently and notably with the New York Mets, although he’s very quietly been tied to teams with similar openings in recent years as well.
The Rays have been recently active in adding Future Stars Series alumni to the fold via the Draft; Ryan Spikes went as one of the top 100 picks this past year to Tampa Bay, and performed well in a brief pro debut with the FCL Rays as an 18-year-old.
In addition, the team selected lefty pitcher Alex Ayala in the ninth round last year as well, where he joined Spikes on the FCL club and turned in four scoreless outings with ten strikeouts in just 5 2/3 innings in his pro debut.
“One of the smartest people in baseball, Bobby has a unique ability to get the best out of people, creates loyalty with accountability and empowerment at the same time, and is one of the best player personnel evaluators of all time,” said FSS President and CEO, Jeremy Booth.
“He’s invested in the true meaning of diversity and does all things with a balance between statistical analysis and subjective evaluations that have stood the test of time. Bobby should be running an organization at the highest levels and is long overdue for his turn. In today’s hierarchy, he would be a president of baseball operations rather than a GM.”
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