Ben Heath Invited to Inaugural College Home Run Derby, but Unable to Participate
July 5, 2010
OMAHA, Neb. - Former Penn State catcher Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.) has been invited to the inaugural TD AMERITRADE College Home Run Derby, but is unable to participate due to his current season with the New York-Penn League's Tri-City ValleyCats. Eight of the nation's premier power hitters will square off this Wednesday (July 7) in one of the final events at historic Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. Heath hit a school-record 19 home runs in 2010 as one of the top power hitters in all of college baseball.
Two Major League Baseball Hall of Famers - Mike Schmidt and Andre Dawson - will serve as honorary hitting coaches for the participants. The event will air nationwide on CBS this Sunday, July 11 from 1-2 p.m. ET.
The confirmed field includes Jordan Ribera (Fresno State), Dan Paolini (Siena), Matt Gaudet (LSU), Matt Skole (Georgia Tech) and Steven Felix (Troy). Ribera led the nation with 27 home runs in 2010 while Paolini had 26. Gaudent hit 19 while Skole and Felix finished with 18 and 16, respectively.
After being selected by the Houston Astros in the fifth round of last month's MLB Draft, Heath was assigned to the Tri-City ValleyCats where he has impressed early in his professional career. Through 13 games, he is hitting .262 with three home runs and seven RBI. His OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .918 is 10th in the New York-Penn League while his three home runs is tied for fourth. Heath, who is averaging a home run every 14 at-bats, hit his first long ball in dramatic fashion when he tied the score with two outs and none on in the bottom of the ninth against Vermont (June 25).
Heath led the Nittany Lions in most every statistical category in 2010: average (.369), home runs (19), RBI (57), runs scored (53), doubles (16), extra-base hits (36), total bases (148) and slugging percentage (.747). He also finished with four multi-home run games - against Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, and Michigan State - to tie for tops in the nation.
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 last month's draft. 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.
Heath cracked three different All-America teams while being named both a Dick Howser Trophy and Johnny Bench Award semifinalist. He also became the first Penn State player to earn ABCA First Team All-Mideast Region laurels since 2000.
The postseason honors have been endless for Heath, who was previously named a Louisville Slugger and PING!Baseball Second Team All-American and a Pro-Line Athletic NCBWA Third Team All-American to go along with his First Team All-Big Ten laurels. He was also named both a Howser and Bench semifinalist awarded to the top player and catcher in the nation, respectively. Only 25 players were named a Howser semifinalist while 16 cracked the Bench List.
Heath became the Nittany Lions' highest position player chosen in the MLB Draft since 1976 and the highest for an underclassman in school history.
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