Top 10 Players for 2011 - No . 7
No. 7 - Craig Heyer
Bio: Heyer is a strike thrower of the highest degree. He was drafted twice by the Diamondbacks (2004, 2005) before he finally signed with the Yankees in the 22nd round in 2007, out of the University of Nevada Las Vegas. One notable who also came from that round is the Phillies' Jiwan James.
He's walked 43 men over 301 1/3 innings in his minor league career, and has permitted just nine long balls during that span. Certainly impressive numbers, but he's 25 years old, and he hasn't thrown a pitch above High-A.
He' s been left unprotected for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. If he's selected and kept by another club, he obviously won't have much value to the Thunder in 2011.
2010 season: After combining for eight starts in his first three years of pro ball, Heyer got the call a dozen times for Tampa in 2010. This is due, in part, to injuries to guys like Manny Banuelos, who was expected to be a big part of the T-Yanks' rotation, but missed half the season with an emergency appendectomy.
Overall, Heyer went 8-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 92 innings over 26 total appearances in a repeat of High-A. He struck out 66 against just 6 walks. That's a ratio of 11-to-1, which is pretty darn good, people.
The Yankees also sent him to the Arizona Fall League this season, where he made four relief appearances and started three times. He went 1-2 with a 1.80 ERA in a pretty good hitters' league.
What's Next: If he doesn't get chosen in the Rule 5, I expect him to fill the Josh Schmidt role with the Thunder next season. Long reliever, spot starter, occasional one-out guy, if necessary.