Recent Gilman graduate Peter Heubeck likened the two options he had regarding his future to having a pair of winning lottery tickets.
The star pitcher, who in May led the Greyhounds baseball team to its first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title since 2010, had a full scholarship offer to Wake Forest before becoming a third-round pick by the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the Major League Baseball amateur draft July 12.
As he turned 19 years old Thursday, Heubeck made his decision: He’s ready to begin his professional career in Dodgers blue.
“I was super excited about Wake Forest [since committing in 2019], but when it came down to it, I feel like the Dodgers are the best organization in baseball with player development, especially for pitchers. All the people I’ve talked to so far there are super good people and I felt it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Heubeck said. “It’s incredible. I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life really. I know it’s going to be a grind, but I’m so excited to go after it.”
Heubeck is set to fly to Los Angeles on Sunday and take a physical before officially joining the team with a signing bonus worth $1,272,000. He’ll then report to the Dodgers’ spring training complex in Glendale, Arizona, for the remainder of the season.
For Heubeck, a right-hander who touches the mid-90s mph with his fastball and also throws a curveball and changeup for consistent strikes, it’s always been baseball. In wrapping up his three-year varsity career — he lost his junior season when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the MIAA season — he went 8-2 with a 1.20 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 64-plus innings for the champion Greyhounds this spring.
His father, Rob Heubeck, who is currently Head of the Upper School at Gilman, served as an assistant for head coach Larry Sheets from 2010 to 2017 and Peter grew up around the team. While he attended Gilman’s lower school, he would go to practices and games, watching Gavin Sheets, who is now playing for the Chicago White Sox, and Cal Ripken Jr.’s son, Ryan, who plays in the Orioles’ minor league system.
At home, there was always a good chance he was in the backyard having a catch with anybody willing to toss with him. Included was his mother, Elizabeth, who learned to toss and catch just for him.
“I think it’s just the fact he loved it and could never get enough of it. He’s always been a student of the game and just soaks it up,” Rob Heubeck said. “He never had a pitching lesson in his life. It was always just watching and emulating and working hard. I never had to force him to go out and play baseball — he wanted to do it all the time.”
After much consideration and discussion from Peter and his parents — the quality of Wake Forest’s athletics and academics making it a difficult decision — the continued talks with the Dodgers staff proved comforting. An opportunity to sign now was too good to pass up.
“We just got the feeling from them — even though they’re incredibly big and a powerful organization — that they were really going to take care of our son,” Rob Heubeck said. “For us, it was very much trying to get a sense if they would really look after him. One of the things we were concerned about was if he needs something out in Arizona and they are proactive in terms of support he may need, whether it’s life skills or social and emotional. They have all that. There’s a reason they’re a well-oiled machine in terms of their organization.”
Larry Sheets, who spent the first six of an eight-year playing career with the Orioles, was able to provide some words of experience to Heubeck as he embarks on his professional career.
“I’m excited for him. Obviously, we’ll know in two or three years if this was the best decision. But, right now, this is the best decision for him and I know he’s chomping at the bit ready to go,” Sheets said. “I told him the same thing I told my son, and it’s this: ‘Things that you think makes sense may no longer make sense because there’s going to be decisions made and you’re going to scratch your head. So the motto going into this is you have to learn to control the things you can control and don’t worry about the other things.’”
Sunday — and the days that follow — can’t come soon enough for Heubeck.
“It’s amazing — all those long days and nights working toward that one big goal and just all the hard work put in is paying off. It feel so good,” he said. “Obviously, there’s so much more work to go and the hardest work is ahead of me, but I feel like I’m ready for it and ready to embrace it.”
After a Zoom meeting with some of the Dodgers’ staff Wednesday, Heubeck was told to watch out for a FaceTime chat later in the day. It proved to be icing on the cake.
“I entered the FaceTime and it was with Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. It was really amazing,” Heubeck said of meeting the All-Star pitchers. “We had a neat conversation about what it’s like going through the organization and just talking baseball. They’re just great guys, super nice, and it was crazy.”