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Monday, April 05, 2010

Heyward takes his show to the major leagues

It started the first week of spring training. Heyward was taking batting practice, firing line drives into the outfield, and then he got a hold of one. Heyward sent a ball beyond the Braves’ bullpen in right field. It landed about 50 feet out of the park and broke the sunroof of assistant general manager Bruce Manno’s car.

Then on March 8 in Lakeland the Braves were playing the Tigers in the seventh game of the exhibition season. Heyward hit a mammoth home run to right field. Some estimated the shot went more than 500 feet.

“That dude is enormous,” pitcher Tommy Hanson said. “He’s a monster. You shake that guy’s hand, and it just swarms you.”

Heyward’s size is only part of his impressive package.

Add the fact that he’s a five-tool talent, which is rare in baseball. That’s why people have tried to compare him to some of the greats, like Willie McCovey, Dave Parker and even Albert Pujols.

Heyward doesn’t swing for the fences, and he’s a very patient hitter at the plate. His swing has a balance that many young players don’t have. He’s completely under control when he’s at the plate.

In the field Heyward covers tremendous ground in right field, and his arm is like a cannon. He’s also extremely smart on the bases, and despite his enormous size, Heyward is a threat to steal a base.

“Jason is a kid beyond his years, as far as his makeup and maturity,” said Brian Snitker, the Braves’ third-base coach. “He’s just a classy, classy young man. He’s a great player, but he’s an even better person. He’s a very polished kid, good kid. There’s nothing but good that you can say about that young man on and off the field.”

Brad Hainje is the Braves’ director of media relations. He worked for the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2001 when Pujols made it to the major leagues. Hainje has had to deal with all the national reporters coming in to talk with Heyward.

“It’s been a different monster than anything I’ve dealt with before,” Hainje said. “Nothing has compared to Jason. Talk about somebody who could really handle it. He’s a very sharp individual. He has a really good idea of how things work. He’s been a perfect pupil.”

The District Attorney Posted: April 05, 2010 at 09:39 PM | 40 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, hall of fame

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   1. UCCF Posted: April 05, 2010 at 09:51 PM (#3493907)
Heyward’s size is only part of his impressive package.

Possibly the best "that's what she said" setup ever.
   2. bfan Posted: April 05, 2010 at 09:59 PM (#3493918)
Say hello to the Yankees RF, right around 2015.
   3. North Side Chicago Expatriate Giants Fan Posted: April 05, 2010 at 10:01 PM (#3493920)
His HR today off of Zambrano was impressive. Patiently took two fastballs slightly up and in - exactly what you might expect a young hitter in his first big league game to chase. Then got one in the zone and punished it for a first-AB HR.

Impressive.
   4. ChuckO Posted: April 05, 2010 at 10:02 PM (#3493924)
Three-run homer by Heyward in his first at-bat.
   5. Flynn Posted: April 05, 2010 at 10:03 PM (#3493925)
Say hello to the Yankees RF, right around 2015.

Yankees sign everybody meme is a little dated, don't you think?
   6. Latnam's first name is Bob Lemon's middle name Posted: April 05, 2010 at 10:08 PM (#3493929)
He really did crush that ball in the first.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 05, 2010 at 10:17 PM (#3493945)

Say hello to the Yankees RF, right around 2015.


Yea, why can't those poor small market Braves ever lock up young talent like Chipper Jones, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine?
   8. bfan Posted: April 05, 2010 at 10:18 PM (#3493951)
Yea, why can't those poor small market Braves ever lock up young talent like Chipper Jones, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine?
Page 1 of 1 pages


ummm, that would be the Braves of the late 1990's wouldn't it?
   9. wjones Posted: April 05, 2010 at 10:54 PM (#3494007)
"Say hello to the Yankees RF, right around 2015."

Please go and drink your battery acid. Thank you.
   10. Accent Shallow Posted: April 05, 2010 at 10:58 PM (#3494014)
For the lazy, here's a link to Heyward's shot. Is it just me, or is the announcer a little more excited than you'd expect? He sounds like it's a walkoff.
   11. Flynn Posted: April 05, 2010 at 11:14 PM (#3494034)
It's Chip Caray isn't it?

Nonetheless, he is the most hyped prospect the Braves have had since Chipper and he just hit a 450 foot home run in his first MLB at-bat. Should he not be excited?
   12. flournoy Posted: April 05, 2010 at 11:18 PM (#3494036)
Is it just me, or is the announcer a little more excited than you'd expect? He sounds like it's a walkoff.


Chip Caray isn't really known for subtlety.

I expect the Braves to sign Heyward to a long term deal sometime this year.
   13. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: April 05, 2010 at 11:22 PM (#3494038)
For what it's worth, Sean McDonough went pretty nuts on the ESPN call too.

Hitting a home run is one thing but he absolutely killed that ball.
   14. Justin T is going to crush some tacos Thursday Posted: April 05, 2010 at 11:24 PM (#3494041)
The most impressive thing about the homer is that it went that far even though it was FISTED!
   15. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: April 05, 2010 at 11:26 PM (#3494044)
I'm not entirely sure the Braves played against a major league team today.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: April 05, 2010 at 11:28 PM (#3494046)
Add the fact that he’s a five-tool talent, which is rare in baseball. That’s why people have tried to compare him to some of the greats, like Willie McCovey, Dave Parker and even Albert Pujols.

McCovey was a great player but he was no five-tool talent. I'll admit that Parker was the first guy I thought of when I saw Heyward step into the box. Then, saying to myself, c'mon Walt, who's the white equivalent ... I went with Kirk Gibson. But Gibson's power arrived pretty late (Parker's wasn't right out of the box either which wasn't my memory). An athletic Adam Dunn might not be a bad comp but I'm hoping Heyward won't be that type of hitter. Play Index also turns up Winfield, Strawberry (too skinny?), Cliff Floyd (I kinda like that one) and who knew that Dale Murphy was 6'4".

Still, Heyward is no Tyler Colvin.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: April 05, 2010 at 11:35 PM (#3494052)
I'm not entirely sure the Braves played against a major league team today.

Hey, we're better than the Royals ... and probably the Pirates and Nats and Astros!

Seriously, while Z didn't have it today, he was also dinked to death by the first 5 guys to reach base (a walk and 4 not well-hit balls). By the time Heyward came up, he was desperate to get somebody out. Meanwhile the Cubs were spanking Lowe but hitting it at 'em (sometimes).

On the bright side, Samadzija pitched like crap.
   18. Into the Void Posted: April 05, 2010 at 11:59 PM (#3494065)
Hard to believe, considering Zambrano is in the best shape of his life.
   19. Ignatius J. Reilly Posted: April 06, 2010 at 12:04 AM (#3494067)
Heyward's PROJECTED hitting/on-base skills look superior to those of Parker, Dunn, Straw, and Winfield's. A healthy Cliff Floyd is interesting.

Biggest questions with J-Hey are how much power he'll develop (I know, strange for someone who's 6'5 250) and how healthy he'll be/how much his size ends up slowing him down.

Too much bat speed and plate discipline not to be a great pure hitter/on-base guy.

I'll throw this one out there. Ken Griffey Jr. Optimistic, but that's what I think that's his ceiling.
   20. WillYoung Posted: April 06, 2010 at 12:40 AM (#3494104)
Looking at his size and swing and all of the intangibles, I think a decent non-positional comp for Heyward would be Joe Mauer. Both of them absolutely have beautiful swings that produce rockets. Heyward just might have figured out how to elevate the swing earlier in his career.
   21. Brian White Posted: April 06, 2010 at 01:43 AM (#3494146)
Hall of Fame tag? Heh.
   22. Kyle S Posted: April 06, 2010 at 02:12 AM (#3494174)
I try to stay objective about these things but with J-Hey (he needs a better nickname!) I am reduced to a giggling schoolgirl.

On an unrelated note, I just ordered a custom Heyward jersey from mlb.com. 20% off today only!
   23. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: April 06, 2010 at 03:30 AM (#3494290)
June 28-30: Nationals at Braves...Strasburg v. Heyward

It's gotta happen.
   24. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 06, 2010 at 04:16 AM (#3494332)
J-Hey (he needs a better nickname!)

The J-Hey Kid?

EDIT: Wait, his middle name is Adenolith??? I have no idea what that means, and the word apparently does not exist on the Internet except in reference to Heyward, but that is a pretty bad-ass middle name. It's like his parents knew he was going to be 6'4, 220 (or that he'd have really big tonsils or something).
   25. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: April 06, 2010 at 04:36 AM (#3494341)
Zambrano is not exactly the greatest opening-day pitcher, is he?
   26. Something Other Posted: April 06, 2010 at 04:41 AM (#3494344)
The most impressive thing about the homer is that it went that far even though it was FISTED!
That's what she said!
   27. CraigK Posted: April 06, 2010 at 04:51 AM (#3494348)
Say Heyward.
   28. Chipper Jonestown Massacre Posted: April 06, 2010 at 05:02 AM (#3494358)
J-Hey (he needs a better nickname!)


The Henry County Hammer

The McDonough Masher
   29. Something Other Posted: April 06, 2010 at 05:23 AM (#3494366)
The Henry County Hammer
This one sings to me.
   30. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 06, 2010 at 05:39 AM (#3494369)
Zambrano is not exactly the greatest opening-day pitcher, is he?


He's not a hell of a lot worse than Josh Beckett.

I realize that I'm not supposed to say this because they're both black, but Dave Winfield is the guy that comes to mind for me.
   31. Alex_Lewis Posted: April 06, 2010 at 06:20 AM (#3494372)
Bobby Cox compared him to Larry Walker. I think his swing is closer to Chase Utley than any of the guys currently listed, but I haven't seen Heyward play very much.
   32. Mattbert Posted: April 06, 2010 at 10:30 AM (#3494380)
Would it be blasphemous and/or racist to watch Heyward and think of a young Barry Bonds? But, like, not a prick.

The guy obviously has quite a long way to go before achieving the greatness so many are expecting of him, but that was a hell of an impressive debut. What struck me was how at ease he appeared; he looked like he’d been in the majors for years already. Whether that has any significant bearing on his eventual performance at this level I don’t know, but it was easy to see why everyone’s been gushing over him. He’s got The Good Face about everything he does. Braves fans are right to be awfully excited.
   33. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: April 06, 2010 at 10:56 AM (#3494381)
I echo the general sentiment of this thread. That was awesome and Heyward looks great. I was walking into the gym, looked up towards the tv screens, and the firt thing I saw was Heyward going deep. Thanks to ESPN's shitty new graphics and the game's high score, my first thought was, this would have been better if it had taken place in his first AB. Then I got BBMs from friends who are casual baseball watchers all talking about Heyward homering in his first AB and got even more excited about the moment. Not a Braves fan, but very excited about the Heyward era.
   34. Hack Wilson Posted: April 06, 2010 at 11:50 AM (#3494390)
Heck the Cub announcers got pretty excited. I think it was Brenly that suggested Heyward get promoted to a higher league.

In terms of the way the ball jumped off the bat and sped over the wall, it reminded me of Frank Robinson's instant homers.
   35. rb's team is hopeful for the new year! Posted: April 06, 2010 at 01:34 PM (#3494436)
That was awesome. Turner field went bananas.

Scattered boos for Lowe though.
   36. Peter Hjort Posted: April 06, 2010 at 01:56 PM (#3494452)
I think this:

Bobby Cox compared him to Larry Walker. I think his swing is closer to Chase Utley than any of the guys currently listed, but I haven't seen Heyward play very much.


Is exactly right. His swing is short and quick like Utley's and unlike most typical power hitters.
   37. The District Attorney Posted: April 06, 2010 at 02:22 PM (#3494470)
   38. Scott Lange Posted: April 06, 2010 at 03:11 PM (#3494532)
I was there. I'm a life-long Cubs fan. It was awesome.
   39. base ball chick Posted: April 06, 2010 at 03:17 PM (#3494545)
you are most certainly NOT allowed to compare the J Hey Kid to larry walker. in case you didn't know it, larry is a canadian!!!

and braves fans, i'll trade you him for cory sullivan straight up. youse guys NEED an infusion of darin erstad type grit
   40. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 06, 2010 at 03:20 PM (#3494551)

I realize that I'm not supposed to say this because they're both black, but Dave Winfield is the guy that comes to mind for me.


Agree wholeheartedly. When Winfield was in his prime and slaughtered the ball, I expected there to be a dent in the baseball. I feel the same way about Heyward.

I have never been this excited about a prospect before. This guy looks like teh awesome.

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