To help themselves in the near future, the North Fork Ospreys dug into their past.
What they found is a baseball player who, without question, can help them. For one thing, he has done so before.
Nick Heath was a member of the Ospreys’ 2013 Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League championship team. He is now the sole remaining player from that title-winning squad.
The Ospreys signed Heath on June 22, and the outfielder joined the club June 27 for a 4-2 win over the Southampton Breakers.
“I’m glad to be back,” he said.
The feeling must be mutual. Heath is a big addition for the Ospreys. He brings them an awful lot with his all-around game and athleticism. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, he looks the part of a baseball player.
Not only that, he can play.
“He’s a pro caliber player,” said Ospreys manager Bill Ianniciello.
Heath was a key piece of the Ospreys’ championship team in 2013. That year he finished fourth in the league with a .326 batting average for the regular season, belted two home runs and drove in 17 runs in 39 games. In addition, he scored 35 runs and was successful on 34 of 39 steal attempts.
Heath was the most valuable player of the three-game league championship series, going 5 for 11 with five runs scored, three stolen bases and two runs batted in against the Center Moriches Battlecats.
“His speed shows when he’s out there; he flies,” another Ospreys outfielder, Tyler Houston, said. “He looks like he’s definitely going to help us win some games with his speed and the hitting. He’s got everything.”
Heath, who bats and throws left-handed, gave a good sampling of what he can do in a 4-2 loss to the Sag Harbor Whalers last Thursday at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic. He led off the third inning with a home run over the right-field fence. Then, in the eighth inning, he lunged forward to make a nifty grab of a fly ball hit by James Clements.
“He’s a speed guy who can also turn on a ball and hit a home run,” Ianniciello said after the game. “A good defensive player, he pretty much showcased his mix of tools today. He’s a power guy; he’s a speed guy; he’s a good defensive player. He’s one of the top prospects in the league, for sure.”
In the first five games he has played since his return to the Ospreys, Heath was hitting .286 with a pair of home runs and six runs batted in. He had scored six runs.
“I want to set a good example … and play hard,” he said.
Heath, who bats and throws left-handed, spent last summer rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. He had expected to be selected in the recent Major League Baseball draft. He said the Colorado Rockies were interested in him, but he couldn’t come to terms with the club.
Instead, Heath will return to Northwestern State (La.) in the fall as a red-shirt junior.
“The plan is to go back to school, try to have another good year and see what happens next year,” he said.
In the meantime, Heath said, he is happy to be back playing in Peconic, even if it is a 23-hour drive from his home in Junction City, Kan.
“It’s good to be back out here,” he said. “It’s always fun playing out here.”