Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Jason Heyward experiment

Jason Heyward is undoubtedy the hottest prospect in baseball for 2010.  And since Atlanta has announced that Heyward will be heading to Altanta to start the season with the big league club, Heyward has been flying off the draft board.  In the last few days, Heyward's ADP has jumped from the low 200's to 183 in Yahoo draft's which it huge for this late in the spring.  I've been asked by a few people what I think about Heyward and drafting him this year.  I actually don't have him in any of my leagues (even my dynasty league), and I'm ok with that (for this year).  Here are my feelings on Heyward for 2010:

1)  Age.  He's only 20.  With all the hype, and spring training craziness, it's hard to overlook this point.  No 20 year old (not named Ted Williams) walks right into the majors and dominates.  Heywards raw power is undeniable, but with the quality of pitching in the NL, there is definately going to be some growing pains.

2)  Experience.  Heyward has 226 games of minor league ball under his belt, with 176 at the A level, 47 at AA, and only 3 games at AAA.  In those 226 games, he has 28 homeruns.  To me, that makes it pretty obvious that a 25-30 homerun projection for this season seems a little over optimisitc.

3) Shin Splints?  Heyward was left out of the game today because of shin splints.  If he has a nagging injury like this going into the season, don't expect a lot of stolen bases.  Also, the team is going to treat Heyward with kid gloves.  Any sign of injury will put him on the bench, or back to AAA.  Even an early season slump could get him a trip back to AAA to avoid destroying his confidence.

Don't get me wrong... I like Heyward.  A lot.  Since Bond's retired, OF's have taken a back seat in the top tier of the power department to A-Rod and first basemen.  Heyward could be the second coming of Hank Aaron.  But not yet.  Not in 2010... maybe not even in 2011.  Plenty of people are salivating over Heyward this year, so if you have him, now is a great time to trade him.  If he's available after pick 200, and you want to take a risk, go ahead, but don't reach for him unless you are in a dynasty league and can lock him up for 3 to 4 years.  As far as projections, if he can get 140+ starts this year, I've got him at 18 HR's, 70 RBI, 65 Runs, 7 Steals, .275 Batting Average.  To me, that sounds like a great season for a 20 year old, but not quite the astronomical numbers some people are talking about.

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