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March 3, 2010

Future Shock Blog

Why Jason Heyward Is In Atlanta On Opening Day

by Kevin Goldstein

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Nearly universally seen as the top positional prospect in the game, Jason Heyward is already making a lot of noise in camp, be it a strong showing in the Braves spring training opener, or damaging cars during his daily batting practice showcase. During our promotional tour for Baseball Prospectus 2010, one question that comes up often is "will he break camp in the big leagues?"

Usually with questions like this, today's game means that the first consideration isn't talent as much as it is dollars, as teams manage their top prospect's playing time in order to get the one extra year before arbitration and, eventually, free agency hit. With Heyward, however, the first consideration just might be Bobby Cox's 2010 swan song.

Last year, Heyward spent a surprising amount of time in the big-league camp. Despite being a teenager coming off a year spent primarily at Low-A, Heyward was still hanging out with the big boys long after most had received their minor-league assignment. I talked to someone close to the situation to find out if we were in line for a big surprise, but I was informed that nothing was out of the ordinary and that Heyward would begin the 2009 season at High-A Myrtle Beach. So why was he yet to be assigned? The answer was quite simple. "Frankly, it's just because Bobby Cox likes watching him play so damn much," said the source.

Cox continues to glow about Heyward at every opportunity this year, and with good reason. And provided Heyward does anything but collapse for the remainder of the spring schedule, the decision to make him the Opening Day right fielder will be based more on Cox's desires than any other future considerations.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

15 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

maxdelrey

What's the verdict on Heyward's maturity?

Mar 03, 2010 16:28 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Makeup is just another part of the off the charts package.

Mar 03, 2010 16:36 PM
 
honeycuttan

Kid looks good in rouge.

Mar 04, 2010 08:04 AM
rating: 1
 
honeycuttan

Kid looks good in rouge.

Mar 04, 2010 08:03 AM
rating: -3
 
dwinning

Seems to me that if the braves goal is to, you know, win baseball games and get into the playoffs, perhaps they should go north with their best team. I can see situations like the orioles with weiters or the nats with strasburg, but if you're in the hunt like the braves should be, you have to take your shot, right?

Mar 04, 2010 10:23 AM
rating: 1
 
MountainCat

Yeah, but winning several years down the road is important, too. Keeping him in a Braves uniform for one more year before the Yankees swoop in on him should be a priority.

Mar 04, 2010 12:04 PM
rating: 0
 
vtadave

Because the Yankees sign everyone right? Felix Hernandez, Matt Holliday, John Lackey, etc.

Mar 04, 2010 13:34 PM
rating: 3
 
jasemilw4

The Yankees or somebody else. It's definitely possible he if he was a superstar that he could re-sign with the Braves, but it's no sure thing. The Braves aren't a big market team. Would they make an exception for Heyward? Only time will tell. First, he's got to produce.

Mar 04, 2010 14:19 PM
rating: -2
 
ryanlazenby

Well, the perfect world scenario would be that Heyward becomes the Braves' very own personal Joe Mauer. Hometown boy makes good. As for people who keep making the argument "winning down the road is important too", if your that committed to the long view then the difference between six and seven years isn't that much. I just don't want to be sitting there at the end of the year and listen to the stat guys tell me that the Braves would've won the 2 more games they needed from an extra month of Heyward in Bobby's last season.

Mar 08, 2010 08:46 AM
rating: 1
 
David Coonce

Yeah, remember when the Yankees signed Chipper Jones and John Smoltz and Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and Andruw Jones and Terry Pendleton and John Rocker and all those other Braves stars. They really made me angry when they did that.

Mar 07, 2010 09:29 AM
rating: 4
 
Tank
(989)

"...John Rocker...star"? Does not compute.

Mar 08, 2010 08:44 AM
rating: 0
 
Ehren Bendler

For 2 seasons (before he went completely nuts), he was one of the top closers in the NL. Until he ran his stupid mouth, he was a legit star.

Mar 08, 2010 10:25 AM
rating: 0
 
formersd

Given Bobby Cox's incredible track record in breaking in young players, I'd let him make the call on Heyward. If he says he's ready and the Braves are trying to contend this year, it should be Bobby's call.

If your purpose is the develop the superstar everyone sees in Heyward, Cox's track record in developing young talent should definitely be part of the decision making process.

Mar 08, 2010 09:52 AM
rating: 0
 
BurrRutledge

Perhaps somebody (Jeff?) can spin up a quick study on the value of the Braves making/missing the playoffs in 2010 vs. the future cost of a) the super two arbitration salary in 2012 and b) a potential 6-year 'buyout' contract that has become so popular.

Mar 08, 2010 11:16 AM
rating: 1
 
cordially
(917)

I feel pointless down here. Especially with the frequency that I get updated. Move me up to the blogs.

Mar 11, 2010 11:34 AM
rating: -1
 
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Premium Article An Agent's Take: Crisi... (03/02)
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