Catching prospect Jonah Heim has been traded twice in his professional career, both times the entire solo package for a big leaguer, and is now starting to make some noise behind the plate in the Oakland Athletics organization.
A fourth-round pick in 2013 by the Baltimore Orioles, Heim was dealt to Tampa Bay at the 2016 trade deadline for Steve Pearce.
16 months later, at the end of 2017, he was dealt to the A’s for Joey Wendle.
Although Heim is certainly projectable as a big leaguer due to his defensive prowess behind the dish, catching prospects still need to hit, too. This season has been the year for the 23-year old New Yorker.
A pro at age 18, he’s gradually, annually worked his way up through the minor leagues, whether it was in the Baltimore, Tampa Bay or Oakland farm system.
In 2014, year two of his budding career, he went from rookie ball to Short-A. 2015 was the climb from Short-A to Low-A. 2016 was spent entirely in High-A and 2017 a year of stasis split between Low-A and High-A.
His offensive profile has never been too exciting, but the switch-hitter was very strong for High-A Stockton this year to the tune of a .292/.353/.433 line and seven home runs —his career-high for a full season is nine last season— and also knocked 21 doubles for the Ports, a certified career-best.
From April 20 to May 18, he put together an 18-game hitting streak where he .429.
Ahead of the curve as a playcaller and receiver, Heim has never thrown out less than 31 percent of runners in a season.
He was promoted to Double-A for the first time in his career in early July, shortly after his 23rd birthday at the end of June, and is currently complimenting top catching prospect Sean Murphy in Midland until Murphy returns from the disabled list and is soon bumped to Triple-A Nashville.
In 21 Double-A games, Heim is hitting .219 but has a pair of multi-hit efforts, including his level debut on July 11.
Murphy’s emergence in the past year has been rapid, but Heim has also had a very big 2018 so far. It’s hard to say that Heim is “blocked” by Murphy, because predicting the fate of a catching prospect is like calling lottery numbers.
In any case, a dominant showing in High-A and subsequent promotion to Double-A for the twice-traded Heim are welcome developments this season.