WINNIPEG, MB – The Winnipeg Goldeyes signed outfielders Dalton Wheat and Grant Heyman on Tuesday.
Wheat shared time with two Miami Marlins’ affiliates last year, playing in a combined 49 games for the Low-A South Atlantic League’s Greensboro Grasshoppers and the High-A Florida State League’s Jupiter Hammerheads. The Augusta, Kansas native batted .232 with 26 runs scored, seven doubles, two triples, one home run, 20 RBI, and five stolen bases. Wheat hit a combined .340 with runners in scoring position between the two clubs. A left-handed hitter and a right-handed fielder, Wheat did not commit an error in 40 total games in the outfield while contributing four assists.
As a true rookie in 2016, Wheat batted .335 for the Kansas City T-Bones in 67 contests. Wheat fell just short of qualifying for the American Association batting race in which he would have ranked fifth. Wheat scored 28 runs with eight doubles, three triples, 27 RBI, and nine steals for Kansas City. Defensively, Wheat finished tied for fourth in the American Association with eight outfield assists while committing just one error in 61 games in the field. Following the season, Baseball America ranked Wheat the number one prospect in independent baseball. The Marlins purchased Wheat’s contract from Kansas City that December. Over his first two seasons of professional baseball, Wheat is a .364 hitter with runners in scoring position (99 at bats) and a .294 hitter with two outs and runners in scoring position (51 at bats).
Wheat originally signed with Kansas City midway through the 2016 season after finishing a stellar college career at Emporia State University (Emporia, Kansas). The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Wheat earned all-conference honours (Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association) with a .391 batting average, 62 runs, and 62 RBI in 57 games as a senior. In addition to his two years at Emporia State, the 24-year-old Wheat also played two seasons at Butler County Community College (El Dorado, Kansas), and hit .317 or better during all four of his collegiate campaigns. Wheat gained notoriety with both the T-Bones and Marlins for wearing leather work gloves as opposed to traditional batting gloves during his at bats.
“I’m excited to see both Dalton and Grant,” said Goldeyes’ manager Rick Forney. “I feel both players can be solid contributors in the American Association. Dalton has a dynamic skill set offensively. Grant has big time power potential.”
Heyman demonstrated impressive power numbers last season in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization, batting .239 with 18 home runs and 70 RBI in 112 games for the High-A California League’s Visalia Oaks. The Pittsford, New York native ranked seventh in the California League in home runs and tied for 10th in RBI, while adding 52 runs scored and 24 doubles. On July 9th versus Lake Elsinore, Heyman collected five hits and three RBI in a 12-2 win over the Storm. Heyman struck out five times the previous game (July 8th ), and is believed to be the first player in the history of professional baseball to have a five-hit game one day after striking out five times.
Heyman was originally drafted by Arizona in the eighth round in 2014 out of the College of Southern Nevada (Henderson, Nevada). The 24-year-old Heyman helped the Short Season-A Hillsboro Hops win back-to-back Northwest League championships in 2014 and 2015, hitting a combined .310 in 10 playoff games. In four years of professional baseball, Heyman is a career .265 hitter, and has averaged 78 runs, 32 doubles, 18 home runs, and 89 RBI per 162 games played. In 620 lifetime at bats with runners on base, Heyman owns a .290 batting average.
The 6-foot-4, 222-pound Heyman excelled as a three-sport athlete (baseball, basketball, and football) at Sutherland High School in his hometown of Pittsford, and was recruited by multiple colleges for both baseball and football (quarterback). Heyman played his freshman season at the University of Miami (Miami, Florida) before transferring to Southern Nevada where he batted .388 as a sophomore leading up to his draft selection. A left-handed batter and right-handed thrower, Heyman has committed just five errors in 331 professional games.
In a separate move, the Goldeyes traded right-handed pitcher Jordan Wellander to the Can-Am League’s New Jersey Jackals in exchange for a player to be named later. Wellander was signed on January 15th and posted a 2.27 ERA in 35.3 innings last year for the Frontier League’s Joliet Slammers.
The Goldeyes now have 21 players under contract for the 2018 season. American Association clubs may carry up to 28 players during spring training, which begins May 6th.
2018 Winnipeg Goldeyes Signings
CF Reggie Abercrombie
1B/DH David Bergin
RHP Edwin Carl
RHP Victor Capellan
LHP Zack Dodson
2B Jordan Ebert
C Kevin Garcia
RHP Zach Hartman
OF Grant Heyman
LHP Kenny Mathews
LHP Kevin McGovern
RHP Cameron McVey
OF Jonathan Moroney
RHP Marshall Pautsch
1B/OF Reynaldo Rodriguez
RHP Charle Rosario
IF Jose Sermo
SS Andrew Sohn
RHP Cody Strayer
C Gavin Stupienski
OF Dalton Wheat