Jason Heyward, one of the Braves' co-top prospects and one of the 5 or so best prospects in all of baseball according to virtually everyone (including Baseball America, John Sickels, and Keith Law), is doing nothing so far in 2009 to diminish observers' expectations.
It's still early, of course, but in 72 plate appearances at high-A Myrtle Beach, the Braves' Lineup Savior--and, boy, does this lineup ever need saving!--has posted a more-than-respectable .277/.351/.492 line, and he doesn't turn 20 for another 3 months. That on-base percentage leads the team and that slugging percentage is second only to Cody Johnson, who strikes out twice as often as Heyward does.
If we're picking nits, Heyward's 1:2 BB:K ratio could stand to improve a little--particularly the walk rate--but he'd be an elite hitting prospect even with a 1:3 ratio. Heyward also hasn't stolen a base yet this year, after swiping 15 in 18 tries last season, but the season is young and any basepath advantage he provides in the future will be icing on the cake, anyway.
Even more drool-inducing than the promising stat line are some early-season scouting reports. Keith Law opined matter-of-factly just last week that Heyward is the "best prospect (non-Wieters/Price division) in the minors." Also last week, a Yahoo Sports article cited two major league sources, an executive and a scout, who lavished the following praise on Heyward:
One major league scout from a top-tier organization is so high on Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward that he said he would be willing to give the Braves anyone on his team's 25-man roster to get him. "The best young hitter I've seen in years," the scout said. "He'll be leading the league in home runs for 10 years once he gets here." Heyward, 19, was the Braves' No. 1 draft pick in 2007, the 14th player taken overall. He's strong, disciplined, and smart - his parents, Eugene and Laura, are both Dartmouth graduates. "Let me put it this way," another major league executive said of the 6-4, 220-pound left-handed hitter. "He's a cross between Dave Parker, Darryl Strawberry and Fred McGriff. How's that put it? He's got a chance to be a real superstar."It's still unfathomable to me that he was available when the Braves' turn to make a selection (14th) came around in the first round of the 2007 Rule 4 Draft.
Even more drool-inducing than such scouting reports is Heyward's ridiculously handsome mug. I have no doubt that the ladies have taken notice.
When the stats, the scouting reports, and, apparently, God, are all on your side, you're officially a can't-miss; barring injury, I truly don't think he can. 2011 can't get here soon enough.