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Monday, April 05, 2010
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.”
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