Only rain, snow slow Dragons' Heisey
By Marc Katz

Staff Writer

Sunday, April 15, 2007

DAYTON Already stopped this season by cold and snow, the Dayton Dragons were rained out of a home game Saturday night against Fort Wayne. The Class A Midwest League game will be made up during Fort Wayne's next visit, May 14-15.

The rainout put left-fielder Chris Heisey's five-game hitting streak on hold. He has a .368 batting average, and is tied for the Dragons' lead with four RBIs.

Imagine all that from a guy who went to tiny Messiah College, a Division II school near his hometown of Mount Joy, Pa., so he could play both basketball and baseball.

"I could tell right away I wasn't going to be big enough to play basketball," said the 6-foot Heisey, who thought he would be an elementary school teacher.

"Messiah is a small school, and the league wasn't very good," Heisey said. "I hit .430 as a junior, but guys were throwing 83, 84 (mph). I thought there were a lot better hitters than me in the league. I could run, though. I posted some good times."

After his sophomore year, a buddy convinced him they should attend some open tryout camps held by major-league teams. It's not like anyone was going to notice them playing at Messiah.

Heisey remembers visiting camps for the Orioles, Padres and Reds, among others, and the guy at the Reds camp told him, "We're going to watch you this year."

Sure enough, Heisey began seeing scouts at Messiah games, and last summer, the Reds selected him in the 17th round of the amateur draft.

Heisey was sent to the rookie Billings, Mont., team, where he hit .286 with six home runs and 37 RBIs in 70 games. "I didn't know how good I was," Heisey said. "But once I started playing, I knew I could play with these guys."

Dragons manager Donnie Scott knows, too. "I really like him," Scott said. "He can hit and play good defense, and he can run. I really like his speed. He drives in runs. He can bat anywhere in the order."

At the moment, Heisey is batting ninth, where you might expect a player from Messiah College to bat.

"Once you go around the order the first time, it doesn't matter where you are," he said.