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2017 BASEBALL
 
 
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Baseball - Fri, Aug. 12, 2016

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. –The call came on the evening of August 10, Olivet Nazarene University alumni Ben Heller ('13) would report to Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts to join the New York Yankees in one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports. Anyone who knows anything about baseball understands just what that means. Then the Yankees showed this wasn't just a late-season call up to check out a prospect, signing Heller to a major league contract and was added him to the 25-man roster.

"Getting to step on the field as a Major League Baseball player is such an incredible feeling," said Heller before his first game at Yankee Stadium. "In a way, I feel like I've conquered a huge mountain of a dream that I've had my entire life. At the same time, I know God has been with me the entire time, guiding my path. He has been with me through many low points and now He is with me for this amazing high point in my journey."

To say that the last three years have been an exciting year for Heller would be quite an understatement. Selected in the 22nd round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft by the Cleveland Indians, Heller became the 23rd Tiger to continue his playing career after college.

Hard work and dedication helped Heller move quickly through the Indians organization, finding his way from the single-A Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the spring of 2013 to the Indian's AAA affiliate, Columbus Clippers, in May of 2016. Reporters in Ohio were talking about the kid who signed for a mere $2,500 and was hitting triple digits out of the pen. People knew it was only a matter of time before Heller would get a change to throw in the big leagues.

On July 31, just before the trade deadline, Heller was involved in one of the biggest deals of the season. The Yankees sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland in exchange for four prospects, including Heller. A day later he was assigned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"It's been surreal to watch Ben's journey from a kid who wasn't highly recruited out of high school to a tireless worker and great teammate in college. Now…a Major League pitcher," said Olivet's Head Coach Todd Reid.

"Les Paraji, a scout for the Cleveland Indians, convinced the Indians to take a chance on him. But it was Ben's desire, dedication and character that got him here, to Yankee Stadium," continues Reid. "I am just so proud to have been a small part of it and am excited to see what God has in store for him."

Heller's first two nights with his new club have been two that he won't likely forget anytime soon. First, experiencing first-hand what a Red Sox/Yankees game is really like, in Fenway no less. Then, on his first night in Yankee Stadium, being front and center for Alex Rodriguez' final game in Yankee pinstripes. Though he wasn't called on to pitch, it's only a matter of time. Anyone who knows Heller, knows he will be ready.

Coming off of a knee injury late in the 2015 season, Heller came out in 2016 on fire. In 46 games, he produced a 1.60 ERA. He picked up 13 saves in 14 opportunities, while striking out 52 and walking a mere two batters. His fast ball was hitting triple digits with his slider keeping batters of balance. In his three year minor league career, Heller has a 2.72 ERA in 153 games. He produced 32 saves with 230 strikeouts to just 70 walks.

The call to the show makes Heller the second former Tiger playing in the big leagues, joining Ben Zobrist of the Chicago Cubs. Olivet also has Josh Altmann, drafted just two years to the day after Heller by the Texas Rangers, currently playing for the Hickory Crawdads.