Scott Heineman, a 28-year-old native of Pacific Palisades, signed a contract with the Yomiuri Giants on August 3, flew to Tokyo last week and is now in quarantine. He will be activated the first week of September.
The 6’1” Heineman, an outfielder and first baseman, was the Texas Rangers’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2018. He played two years in the Majors with Texas, and earlier this year he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. He played in 19 games this season and had only three hits in 30 at-bats (two of them home runs).
He told Circling the News that when this chance to play in Japan came up, he knew it would give him the opportunity to play every day. Just as in Major League baseball in the U.S., the Japanese “play every day with an occasional off day,” he noted.
After a month-long hiatus to accommodate the Olympics, the Japanese season resumed on August 13 and will end in early November, when the playoffs start.
Heineman will live in Tokyo, where his new team plays inside the Tokyo dome.
“The opportunity to play in Japan and especially for the Yomiuri Giants (who are referred to as the New York Yankees of Japan) was too good to pass up,” Heineman said. “Everyone has a different journey in their lives and baseball careers and I’m just incredibly grateful for the places baseball has taken me.
“I’ve played in the Major Leagues, I’ve played in the Dominican Republic and now I get to play in Japan,” he said. “Life is all about the journey and I’m excited to see where this takes me and to learn and grow as a player and a person with my Japanese teammates.”
Heineman grew up in Pacific Palisades but played Santa Monica Little League (his dad was a policeman in that city) and then high school ball at Crespi. As a senior, he was named first-team All-Mission League after hitting .358.
College scholarship offers started arriving when Heineman was a sophomore, including Division 1 powers USC, Fullerton and UCLA, but he eventually chose the University of Oregon. He recalled that all those offers made him think, “Oh wow, I have a chance to play at a Division 1 school and get better.” And the reality of playing Major League ball now seemed possible.
After a strong career at Oregon, Heineman was drafted by Texas in the 11th round in 2015. He started at the single A level with the High Desert Mavericks, then it was AA with the Frisco Rough Riders, AAA with Round Rock Express and finally Nashville.
When he made his major league debut in August 2019, after he was called up from the Triple A Nashville Sounds, Heineman told CTN, “I truly believe if you really love something, work at it, have the right mindset, you can do what you want.”
(Editor’s note: Heineman’s older brother, Tyler, was released by the St. Louis Cardinals on July 1, and he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies on July 3. He then signed a minor league contract with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, where he is hitting .297 (11 hits in 37 at-bats and four RBIs). Tyler, a catcher, batted 77 times with Triple-A Memphis earlier this season, hitting .254 without any home runs. He had brief stints with the Miami Marlins in 2019 and the San Francisco Giants in 2020.)