The Padres have yet to announce the Fort Wayne TinCaps coaching staff, but fans of San Diego’s Midwest League affiliate now know some faces to keep a look out for during the 2015 season.
From a Padres press announcement released Wednesday:
The San Diego Padres today announced the club’s roving minor-league instructors for the 2015 season. New to the Padres’ staff of minor-league roving instructors for the 2015 season are Special Assistant, Player Development Moises Alou, Player Development Consultant Dave Snow, Field and Hitting Coordinator Luis Ortiz, Pitching Coordinator Mark Prior, Minor League Pitching Instructor Eric Junge, Catching Coordinator Ryley Westman, and Outfield/Baserunning Coordinator Tarrik Brock. Returning to San Diego’s staff will be Infield Coordinator Eddie Rodriguez, Latin American Instruction Coordinator Evaristo Lantigua, Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Jordan Wolf, Rehab Coordinator Ryan Bitzel, and Medical Coordinator Joseph (JoJo) Tarantino. In addition, Gorman Heimueller also returns to the Padres for his second season with the organization and his first as roving pitching instructor.
Of all those men, only Prior and Heimueller played in the Midwest League.
Prior pitched four games in the Midwest League, all during rehab assignments. In two starts for the 2004 Lansing Lugnuts and two starts for the 2006 Peoria Chiefs, he collectively posted a 2.51 ERA (four earned runs in 14.1 IP) and 21 strikeouts.
Heimueller pitched in nine games for the 1977 Cedar Rapids Giants. He posted a 1.80 ERA (three earned runs in 15 IP), five saves, and 15 strikeouts.
How Heimueller ended up pitching for Cedar Rapids is an interesting story. Here’s an excerpt from a 1993 Los Angeles Times story about him:
When no big-league team took a chance on Heimueller in the 1977 amateur draft, he went to Canada and played in semi-pro leagues.
Heimueller found an empty mound in Calgary and settled in, but not for long. Within two months, he was offered a chance to pitch for a Rapid City, S.D., team in a Wichita, Kan., tournament. Problem was, every airline in Canada happened to be on strike, and Heimueller was scheduled to pitch the next day.
Refusing to let a labor strike stand between him and a dream, Heimueller decided to hitchhike. Eventually he got a ride to Great Falls, Mont., and was able to make airline connections to Wichita, via Denver. But during a layover in Denver, Heimueller’s journey took a detour.
“My name was announced to come to the white phone,” Heimueller said. “I’m thinking, ‘Oh no, somebody’s died,’ but it was my dad. He said that the (San Francisco) Giants had called, that I should call Candlestick Park right away. They said they needed a pitcher (for their Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Class-A affiliate) and was I interested? I said, ‘Am I interested? If I could fly, I’d be there right now.’
“Here I was, living in Canada one day and thinking about staying there all year, and two days later I had signed my first pro contract. I think I got a Big Mac for my bonus.”
Heimueller finished the ’77 season at Cedar Rapids. In 1978, he moved up to a Double-A team in Shreveport, La., where he stayed through 1980. He got invited to the Giants’ camp in the spring of ’81, where manager Frank Robinson had him teach his pickoff move to veterans Vida Blue and Al Holland, among others. But before camp broke, Heimueller was released by the Giants.
Within a week of his release, Heimueller signed with the Oakland Athletics. He went on to pitch 98.1 innings in the major leagues for the A’s, in 1983 and 1984. He ended his playing career pitching in the Minnesota Twins organization.