Bellingham Bells' Scott Heath is a man with many tools. Fans just don't know that yet.
Heath was recruited from the University of Maine this summer as a two-way guy. He racked up 50 innings over nine starts during his junior season with the Black Bears. He also led Maine with a .361 batting average, clubbing four homers during the year.
Despite his skills as a first baseman and a pitcher, nowhere in the Bells program does it list Heath as a field player. Beside his name reads LHP (left-handed pitcher).
Yet Heath hasn't touched the mound this season.
"He was just a little tired after throwing that many innings," Bells coach Jeff James said. "So we figured we would let him take a few weeks off, get his arm healthy, get him back in shape until he feels good enough to come back. We're looking forward to him when he does that."
Instead of showing off his arm, Heath has given fans plenty of excitement. He has put together a .378 batting average, adding a team-leading two home runs. One of those homers was a grand slam on Sunday, June 21, at Joe Martin Field against the Bend Elks.
The bases were loaded with one out. Heath was down in the count. The Bells had only hit six home runs on the season up to that point. Nobody was expecting him to crank one out.
"I was just trying to get a ball I could hit to the outfield," Heath said. "I figured he was going to throw me a curveball down in the zone. I went down and got it, hit it well enough to get it out of here."
The power-hitting left-hander hits out of the cleanup spot and has developed a knack for putting together multi-hit games. Heath has compiled multiple base knocks in seven of his 13 games (including non-league contests).
Heath admits that once he gets that first hit, it helps him in his next at-bat. But the key for him in all his at-bats is swinging at the right pitch, something he has done with success this season. He's only struck out seven times in 45 plate appearances.
"The key for me is not trying to get myself out and swinging at good pitches," Heath said. "You do that, you give yourself a chance to be successful."
Heath is one of three University of Maine players on the Bells' roster. The other two include pitcher Burk Fitzpatrick and outfielder Lou Della Fera.
Maine has quickly become a hotbed for Bells recruiting, headed by pitching coach Jim Clem.
"He's recruited Maine guys in the past and he said every one of them has been outstanding citizens and great teammates," James said. "So he likes that relationship, and I can see why because all three of those guys have been great people and great around the community and obviously great on the field as a well."
Heath exemplifies that notion, providing plenty of leadership to the dugout. Heath leads by example, going about his business in a professional manner, James said.
Heath tries to focus on team-first, but of course he aspires to play professionally just like every college athlete of his stature.
"He's truly a professional in how he goes about his business," James said. "The way he prepares everyday, the way he plays the game hard every single day. He's just a true professional in his work ethic and the way he goes about playing this ball game."
Because of his leadership and work ethic, other players hold him in high regard. Della Fera is glad to have come to Bellingham with Heath and has gotten to know him better after spending only one season at Maine together.
"Coming with him here has been great. He's been unbelievable," Della Fera said. "He's becoming the leader that he will be at Maine."
Heath will enter his senior season at Maine next year and after that he hopes to at least come back and visit his host family in Bellingham.
"They've been great. They feed me a lot," Heath said.
For now, Heath is working hard in practice to get on the mound as soon as possible. For fans, coaches and teammates that can't come soon enough. A two-way guy like Heath is hard to come by but he has led the Bells to a 9-5 record and adding more Heath to the statsheet can only help that line.
The expectation for the Bells is to make a run in the playoffs, Heath said.
"We got a lot of great guys on the team, a lot of good ball players here," Heath said. "If we keep playing well and stick to what we do we're going to be very successful and make a run in the playoffs. Hopefully that's the case."
All stats in this story are as of Friday, June 27.
Reach Joshua Hart by email at email@example.com or by phone at 360-715-2851.