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June 15, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Less than one week after being selected by Houston in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball Draft, Penn State junior catcher Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.) has signed a contract with the Astros and will report to the club's New York Penn League team, which begins play on Friday. Heath, who will forego his senior season at Penn State, will suit up for the short season single-A Tri-City ValleyCats based out of Troy, N.Y.
Despite leaving early, Heath does plan on earning his degree. A Kinesiology major, he currently has less than two semesters remaining before earning his bachelor's.
Heath will be united with former Big Ten rival Michael Kvasnicka (Minnesota) on the ValleyCats, who was selected in the supplementary round by the Astros. Tri-City is scheduled to play at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Aug. 7-9, which could feature Heath's return to Happy Valley.
"It would be cool to come back home," said Heath. "It would definitely be a cool experience with familiar faces in the stands and obviously a familiar surface to play on."
Heath's breakout junior campaign included leading the team in most every statistical category: average (.369), home runs (19), RBI (57), runs scored (53), doubles (16), extra-base hits (36), total bases (148) and slugging percentage (.747).
On May 14, Heath hit his 18th home run of the season off Minnesota ace and San Francisco Giants' fourth round pick Seth Rosin to break the 32-year Penn State single-season mark held by Dave Simononis, this coming in his first at-bat at the historic Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Overall, Heath homered against three Big Ten aces, all who were selected in the MLB Draft on Tuesday. Along with Rosin, Alan Oaks (Michigan) was an eighth round pick by the Florida Marlins while Matt Bischoff (Purdue) went in the 20th round to the Seattle Mariners.
Numerous postseason honors include being named First Team All-Big Ten, both a Louisville Slugger and PING!Baseball Second Team All-American and a Dick Howser Trophy and Johnny Bench Award semifinalist. Only 25 players in the nation were named a Howser semifinalist while 16 cracked the Bench list.
Check back to GoPSUsports.com throughout the summer for updates on Heath and other Nittany Lion alums playing professionally.
Baseball camp information is now available. Call the Sports Camp Office at (814) 865-0561 or email them at SportCampInfo@outreach.psu.edu for more information.
Follow Penn State baseball on Twitter: www.twitter.com/psubaseball.