(Redirected from Matej Hejma)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 6", Weight 215 lb.
Matěj Hejma was a Minnesota Twins farmhand.
Hejma appeared in the European Baseball Academy in 2006. He hit .196/.288/.239 as a 17-year-old for Krč Altron in 2007. He signed with the Minnesota Twins in April of 2008; the scout was Howard Norsetter. He was the second third player to sign with Minnesota, following Jakub Toufar and Jakub Hajtmar. In 2008, he improved to .247/.347/.306 for Altron and stole 10 bases in 15 tries. He played well in the 2008 World Junior Championship, hitting .280/.333/.680 with 5 extra-base hits in 25 AB. He led the 11th-place Czech squad in slugging and was a triple shy of a cycle in their last game. He tied 3 others for second in the tourney with two homers, one behind first-round draft pick Brett Lawrie.
Hejma made his pro debut with the 2009 GCL Twins on June 23 and went 2 for 4 against the GCL Rays, hitting 5th and playing right field. He hit .271/.314/.344 for the season and had two outfield assists and no errors. The big negative was his strikeout rate; the 6' 6" player with the huge strike zone had 29 K and only 3 BB in 102 plate appearances. He also hit .316/.395/.500 for the Eagles Prague in the Czech league, appearing there before the US minor league season kicked off.
Hejma debuted for the Czech senior national team in the 2009 Baseball World Cup, playing each outfield spot in one game. He was 1 for 5 with a walk, hit by pitch and RBI in the event. His lone hit came off Josh Hill of Australia. He hit .306/.371/.452 for the 2010 GCL Twins; he was not the only European backing up in their outfield, as German Max Kepler also did so. He returned to the Eagles Prague for the postseason, batting .360/.393/.720 with 3 homers and 7 RBI in 7 games. He led the postseason in homers and was third in slugging. In the 2010 European U-21 Championship, he hit .346/.414/.538 and led the Czechs with 5 runs and 9 hits. He batted .350/.435/.450 in the 2010 Intercontinental Cup and had 14 putouts in the outfield. He led the team in slugging, tied Pavel Budský for the most hits and was second to Budský in average (by .018). He was 2 for 2 in a loss to Cuba.
In 2011, he struggled at .225/.292/.303 for the Elizabethton Twins with 30 K in 89 AB, backing up Kepler in LF. He was 1 for 11 with a walk in the Extraliga postseason. Let go by the Twins, he spent all of 2012 with the Eagles, hitting .380/.459/.653 with 26 runs and 28 RBI in 32 games, while fielding .988. He finished among the Extraliga leaders in hits (49, 7th), total bases (83, 4th, between Jakub Malik and Wayne Ough), homers (5, tied for 8th), slugging (9th, between Malik and Kellen Kmiecik) and steals (12, 10th). He produced at a .382/.512/.765 clip in the postseason with 9 runs and 9 RBI in 9 games. He was second in the postseason in runs (tied, one behind Martin Schneider), RBI (tied, two behind Tom Brice), walks (9, one behind Brice), hits (13, tied, two behind Jan Drábek), total bases (26, tied with Budský) and homers (3, tied for 2nd, one behind Drábek).
In the 2012 European Championship, he starred for the Czechs, hitting .419/.471/.645 with 8 RBI in 8 games. He had 3-hit, 3-RBI games against both Belgium and France and homered off Leslie Nacar in a loss to Spain. In the 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, he was 0 for 7 with a walk (drawn from Josh Mason) and a run.
The Prague native had another big campaign in 2013 - .358/.467/.642, 44 RBI, 33 R in 34 G. He was third in the league in dingers (7, behind Jiří Marek and Richard Sázavský), tied Sázavský for 5th in total bases (79), was 8th in hits (44), was second in RBI (13 behind Marek), was 4th in slugging (between Petr Baroch and Schneider), was 5th in steals (13 in 13 tries) and tied Malik and Alex Derhak for 8th in runs. He fielded .987. He was 3 for 16 with two runs and a RBI in the postseason. In the 2013 European Cup, he led the Eagles offensively (.353/.429/.647, 5 R, 5 RBI, 5 SB, 0 CS in 5 G). He was 9th in the Regensburg pool in average, was second in slugging (.086 behind Nick Nosti), tied for 6th in runs, tied for 5th in RBI, tied Nosti for third in total bases and led in swipes.
Hejma picked up his OPS even further in the 2014 Extraliga when he hit .357/.428/.721 with 43 runs and 39 RBI in 31 games, fielding .947. He stole 28 bases in 31 tries. He led the league in steals (one over Hajtmar), was second in runs (two behind Hajtmar), was second in RBI (12 behind Jakub Sládek), was second in homers (9, 8 behind Sládek), tied for 8th in hits (46) and was second in slugging (.148 behind Sládek, but also .106 over #3 Petr Čech). He tied Tomáš Ovesný for the third-most steals in an Extraliga season (since stats were first tracked in 1997), 3 behind Schneider's record and 2 behind Hajtmar. He was 2 for 12 with a homer, steal, two runs and four RBI in the postseason. In the 2014 European Championship, his batting line read .290/.313/.645 and he had 9 RBI, 10 runs and 5 steals (without being caught) in 8 games, with 10 putouts afield. He had 3 runs against Croatia, 3 hits, 3 runs and 3 RBI against Greece and had both a two-run homer (off Matthieu Brelle-Andrade) and three-run shot (off Yoann Vaugelade) in a romp over France. For the event, he tied Jamie Verheyleweghen, Gianison Boekhoudt, Hainley Statia and Juan Carlos Infante for 4th in runs and tied Kalian Sams, Infante and Maxime Lefevre for the most steals (only he and Sams were 5-for-5 as both Infante and Lefevre were caught).
The Eagles star hit .416/.519/.871 with 36 runs, 41 RBI, 12 home runs and 15 steals (in 16 tries) in 29 games in 2015, while handling 67 chances error-free (66 PO, 1 A). He did not lead the Extraliga in anything but was second in OBP (.006 behind Petr Síla), slugging (trailing Mitch Nilsson), RBI (tied with Sládek, 9 behind Corey Lyon) and homers (tied with Lyon, one behind Sládek). He was 4th in average (between Síla and Lyon), tied Tomáš Juněc for 4th in total bases (88), tied for 7th in walks (22), 3rd in steals (after Daniel Mráz and Síla) and was 8th with 36 runs (between Petr Zýma and Michal Ondráček). He was named the best hitter in the regular season. He kept it up in the postseason this time - 6 for 14, 2B, 3 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, leading the postseason in slugging, 3rd in OBP and average and tying Lyon for 4th in home runs.
In the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, he got the first hit for the Czechs, off Mark Serrano and their first home run in a World Baseball Classic qualifier, taking Jake Sanchez deep to bring them within a run of host Mexico, 2-1, but they wound up losing by that margin. For the event, he was 4 for 12 with 4 runs and 3 RBI, tying Adrian Gonzalez, Malik and Donald Lutz for the most runs in the Mexicali pool.