Perhaps it is cabin fever or just needing to get excited about something this spring, but have you checked out Atlanta Braves rookie outfielder Jason Heyward?
The dude is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and can mutilate a baseball better than OreIda can mash a potato.
Not impressed? Check this out:
Heyward was named Baseball America’s Minor League player of the year in October and has a fast track to an opening day gig in right field for the Braves. Manager Bobby Cox has admitted that he’s seriously considering Heyward skipping over AAA ball and starting in the Majors from Day One.
“He’s virtually skipping Triple-A if he makes the team,” Cox said last month. “That doesn’t happen often. But in his case we just feel that he should, if he’s going to come to spring training, be given a crack at it.”
It helps that Heyward hasn’t wasted any time making a good impression.
In the spring opener Tuesday, Heyward singled, walked twice and stole a base. Perhaps not super stats on the surface, but the plate discipline against major league pitching combined with speed on the basepaths are gravy for a guy who can smack a baseball over the Mississippi River while taking batting practice on Long Island.
Statistical prowess isn’t a new experience for Heyward. He batted a sick .352 in 162 plate appearances in AA ball last year, with seven homers, 30 RBI, 32 runs scored and five stolen bases.
In a short 11-atbat stint in AAA ball, Heyward was .364 at the plate.
Teammate Chipper Jones, who knows a thing or two about successful hitting, admitted in mid February that Heyward has the tools to succeed right away.
“This Heyward kid looks like Fred McGriff with 20 more pounds on him out in right field,” said Jones. “He is built. He is put together. And he means to do some damage when he walks to that plate.”
Just the kind of player I want on my fantasy baseball team. Sure there is risk with any unproven rookie, but Heyward seems to have all the tools of a stud-in-the-making.
Hype will drive Heyward’s value at your fantasy baseball draft, but it may be worth paying a little extra for a young player who could perform at a high level right out of the gates — especially in all dynasty and keeper league formats.
What is your opinion of Heyward? Which young players are on your radar this spring?