Kernels play Heid to seek victories

CEDAR RAPIDS — Drew Heid has always hit.

It started at a small high school in his native Washington and continued in junior college and the Division I college level. He spent a summer playing ball with prospects in Alaska and hit a ton there, too.

“I just took the steppingstones, I guess you could say,” the Cedar Rapids Kernels outfielder said. “Stayed close to home, began in junior college and worked my way up. I’ve played with a lot of guys who had more experience. I came from a small town, a small school. I just learned how to hit.”

After a slow start, Heid’s batting average crept back over the .300 mark with a 2-for-4 performance in Cedar Rapids’ 8-4 win over Kane County Tuesday night before 809 fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium. You wouldn’t expect anything less from the 23-year-old leadoff man.

Heid hit a lusty .362 in Rookie ball last season, vaulting himself onto the list of top-30 prospects in the Los Angeles Angels farm system.

“The best compliment I can give him is he’s a pest at the plate,” said Kernels Manager Brent Del Chiaro. “He’s a guy that doesn’t strikeout a lot. He’s going to battle you to the very end. He had a lot of success last year, but he got down on himself a little bit here at the beginning of the season. But he doesn’t give away at-bats, so that gives him a chance to be successful. When he’s battling and battling and being a pest, he’s a table setter for us.”

Heid normally sees a lot of pitches in his ABs, working counts and slapping away two-strike efforts foul. A left-handed hitter, he reminds you of Matt Crawford of the 2009 Kernels, even wearing the same number (13).

His plan is to drive opposing pitchers nuts with his bat control. It worked last night, as he ignited a six-run first inning with a single to center.

“I always picture myself as a guy who is always getting after it at the plate,” said Heid, a ninth-round draft pick last June out of Gonzaga University, where he hit .385 as a senior. “Always fighting, battling against the pitcher. I’m wanting to make him angry at me. If I make the pitcher angry, then most likely he’s giving something good to the next hitter. That’s good, even if I’m not happy with the outcome of my at-bat.”

The Kernels (12-6) won for the 10th time in 12 games. David Harris and Ricky Alvarez drove in a pair of runs each, as every Kernels starter reached at least once via hit, walk or hit batter.“It’s been a lot of fun (lately),” Heid said. “We started out decent, but we knew we had better talent. We’re just showing it now, I think.”