North Fork Ospreys manager Bill Ianniciello was a prophet.
Ianniciello evidently knew what he was talking about in the summer of 2015 when he told The Suffolk Times that Nick Heath was a “pro-caliber player.”
Heath, 26, has become a Major League Baseball-caliber player. The Kansas City Royals recalled the former Ospreys player from their alternate training site Tuesday. Heath is on the Royals’ 40-man roster and is listed fourth on the club’s depth chart for centerfielders. He didn’t play in the Royals’ 4-3 loss at Detroit Tuesday.
The Royals had drafted Heath in the 16th round (493rd overall) of the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Northwestern State University of Louisiana. In four minor-league seasons, he put up a .266 batting average, 13 home runs, 107 RBIs and 160 stolen bases in 323 games. He also had a .962 fielding percentage and 19 errors.
The 6-1, 190-pound Heath, who is from Milford, Kan., throws and bats lefthanded. He was a big part of the Ospreys’ 2013 Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League champion team. That year he finished fourth in the league with a .326 batting average. He also hit two homers, drove in 17 runs and was successful on 34 of 39 steal attempts in 39 games. Heath was the championship series MVP that year, going 5-for-11 with five runs scored, two RBIs and three steals against the Center Moriches Battlecats.
“He’s a special guy who can also turn on a ball and hit a home run,” Ianniciello said in a 2015 interview.
Heath returned to the Ospreys in 2015, but didn’t enjoy as much success, hitting .216 with three homers, seven RBIs and nine steals in 15 games.
In a 2015 interview, Heath said, “I want to set a good example … and play hard.”