Will Jason Heyward Make The Braves’ Opening Day Roster?

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution makes a prediction: "Jason Heyward is going to be the Braves' right fielder on opening day."  Heyward, the top prospect in baseball, is impressing observers in every way possible this spring.  Still, he is only 20 years old and has just 50 games experience above A ball.

Projection systems, looking only at Heyward's minor league stats and not the scouting reports, call for something around a .330 OBP and .425 SLG from Heyward in the Majors in 2010 (CHONE, ZiPS).  A computer would give Heyward more minor league seasoning, under the theory that he's a lateral move from Matt Diaz, Melky Cabrera, and Eric Hinske.  Keeping Heyward in the minors for even two weeks would buy the Braves another year of control, similar to what the Rays did with Evan Longoria in 2008.  If the Braves really wanted to save money, they could hold Heyward in the minors until mid-May to avoid Super Two status.

The Braves may feel, however, that Heyward is likely to exceed automated projections.  They may consider intangibles such as the potential fan reaction to sending Heyward down.  They may simply decide that winning is the only priority, and a full season of Heyward gives them the best chance to win.  O'Brien has heard nothing about service time manipulation from Braves officials, "publicly or privately."

O'Brien brings up an interesting point: maybe the Braves already have designs to "make a multi-year contract offer well before [Heyward] hits arbitration," reducing the importance of Heyward's service time.  Longoria certainly didn't take offense to the Rays' approach; he inked his team-friendly extension less than a week after his big league debut.


Leave a Reply

97 Comments on "Will Jason Heyward Make The Braves’ Opening Day Roster?"


cestilp
5 years 4 months ago

I think this is a rare exception where you sacrifice team control for results. The Braves have the pitching and desperately need the power, and Heyward provides significantly more pop than Diaz or Cabrera. Everything I’ve read about his makeup is that he’ll be just fine when he eventually gets to the majors (i.e. not the Jordan Schafer debacle of last year, which was attributed to not disclosing an injury).

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

Jason Heyward is simply the greatest thing since sliced bread. He will no doubt about it be in Right Field at 1:05 P.M. on Opening Day.

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

Jason Heyward is simply the greatest thing since sliced bread. He will no doubt about it be in Right Field at 1:05 P.M. on Opening Day.

eedwards027
5 years 4 months ago

God I hate projection systems. They are the dumbest thing in the world. How in the hell can a computer predict anything that happens in real life?

cestilp
5 years 4 months ago

Baseball projection is done the way all predictions are made – through history. Similar players with similar skills or ages play out in all different ways, and provide reasonable comparable situations and outcomes for the player in question.

dwarfcatt
5 years 4 months ago

weather forecasts must infuriate you

Encarnacion's Parrot
5 years 4 months ago

How often are weather forecasts ever right?

TommyBrookensIsMyTiger
5 years 4 months ago

Seriously – statistics are INdicative, NOT PREdictive. You can tell all you want about what someone has done, but you can only hope it predicts what they will actually do. Injuries, slumps, contract issues and relationships all play into things WAY more than the sabermetricians will ever admit. Statistics are awesome, but human beings play the games, not simulated avatars.

ReverendBlack
5 years 4 months ago

Sun gonna rise tomorrow?

Redhawk
5 years 4 months ago

And if a baseball player’s performance was every as consistent as the Sun Rising….I’d buy into the projections much, much more than I do now.

ReverendBlack
5 years 4 months ago

All knowledge is probabilistic. Doesn’t seem difficult to reconcile the fact that projectors only make the best they can of necessarily incomplete information … just like anyone else in any other circumstance – ever.

If prior performance (as measured by statistics) were as unreliable an indicator of future performance as you seem to think, it’d have been all but abandoned by baseball’s decision-makers by now. Instead what you see is ever-increasing refinement — because it works.

Redhawk
5 years 4 months ago

And if a baseball player’s performance was every as consistent as the Sun Rising….I’d buy into the projections much, much more than I do now.

Drew
5 years 4 months ago

Probably the funniest comment I’ve ever read on a baseball fansite…

kswissreject
5 years 4 months ago

Aric, I know that’s you.

eedwards027
5 years 4 months ago

Who the hell is aric?

$1526717
5 years 4 months ago

I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see them agree on a Longoria type deal very soon. Heyward is about a sure bet as you’re going to get. It will be a treat to watch this kid play. He’s got all the tools – power, contact, speed, defense, arm, and a great eye. And by all accounts, he sounds like a great kid who is well-liked and still down to earth. Braves have quite a player there.

rockiesfan_303
5 years 4 months ago

Diaz McLouth and Heyward looks pretty good with Melky coming off the bench. I think if this is the lineup they open with then that is what Atlanta was hoping for all along

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

Heyward will have a way higher on-base than that…

goldenglove002
5 years 4 months ago

I’ll second that. He seems to have amazing plate discipline.

goldenglove002
5 years 4 months ago

I’ll second that. He seems to have amazing plate discipline.

start_wearing_purple
start_wearing_purple
5 years 4 months ago

They’ll probably do what any team would do in this situation… keep him in the minors just long enough to delay arbitration.

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

I just saw today that Albert Pujols, at 20 years old, played almost a full season in A ball, 2 weeks in A+ ball, and then a week in AAA his first pro season. He then played 161 games in the MLB the next season.

I was almost shocked by how little time he got in the minors, especially at such a low level, so he must have really killed in ST. The same could happen for Heyward, and if he really is that great it may not hurt him.

$1526717
5 years 4 months ago

I could be misremembering here, but I thought it was an injury to a crappy vet like Bobby Bonilla or someone like that that opened up a spot for Pujols.

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

Hmmm, I never knew about anything like that, but I wouldn’t doubt it.

drumzalicious
5 years 4 months ago

either way the point still remains that if a player has it they will succeed and they will show you when they are ready. They way Heyward is playing he is almost forcing their hand

ivdown
5 years 4 months ago

Hmmm, I never knew about anything like that, but I wouldn’t doubt it.

cavebird
5 years 4 months ago

Bonilla was in camp and got hurt, but he was already pretty much finished by then. Pujols had an impressive spring, the Cards had a hole at third, and when the stopgap attempt failed (and seriously, Bonilla couldn’t play third when he was young, he never could have done it then), the rest was history.

wendy2584
5 years 4 months ago

I don’t understand how you can break camp and Not have this guy going north. He is the best option for right field and in the end, with all politics aside, one should field the best team possible. Thus I believe Jason Heyward will indeed be in Right field at Turner Field come Opening Day 2010.

ReverendBlack
5 years 4 months ago

Risk v. reward. If he’s going to be a great hitter right now, he’ll be one wherever he’s placed. Sending him to the minors will not hurt him. But it will give him more experience and give the team more control.

If he’s not going to be a great hitter yet, it’s a waste of time, money, and potential to bring him up.

The Braves can afford to let him work on his game for a couple of months in the minors.

optionn
5 years 4 months ago

Its way way too early to tell if this guy is any good. Yeah, he looks the part like Ryan Howard. But nobody knows if he will produce. All these young players are just an excuse by owners to avoid paying veterans.

5 years 4 months ago

Hardly an excuse when you have a youngster this talented. Why pay some overpriced crappy vet, when you can go with your homegrown talent?

5 years 4 months ago

The braves will probably send him to the minors…smart move if they do…

jadarm
5 years 4 months ago

I truly understand the logic in doing something like that both strategically and financially. But I have also been a Braves fan forever….the people that are following them are going to be quite pi$$’d if he has a good spring and doesn’t break camp with the club.

He is one of the amazing stories of MLB right now, they had his HR on ESPN yesterday. Why would the Braves send him to AAA and let the story cool off? Not only would it be bad strategically and financially but it would be one of the biggest PR mistakes in Braves history.

5 years 4 months ago

this coming from a franchise that cant even sell out playoff games?

i think braves ownership is thinking long term…and thats a smart move

alxn
5 years 4 months ago

I’ve already given up on the Braves waiting until late May (which IMO is the best decision). That being said, there is absolutely no excuse for breaking camp with him. Under no circumstances is 2-3 weeks of his rookie season worth more than an entire year in his prime. Heyward is smart enough to understand this. If he wants to play now then he will agree to a team friendly contract that makes this debate moot. It seems like Bobby Cox is constantly campaigning to start the year with Heyward the way he keeps batting him early in the line-up. However, Wren has proven before that he really does not care about what Bobb Cox wants.

On a side note, I don’t think those projections are very accurate, particularly the OBP. Heyward might be the most patient hitter in the entire Braves organization.

HTF
5 years 4 months ago

Cox has just basically came out and said that he will be on the team: “ajcbraves Cox about tonight being opening-day lineup: “Pretty close. I don’t know if Heyward will be hitting seventh, if he keeps going like this.””

5 years 4 months ago

If Bobby Cox is not confident enough to bat Jason Heyward in the heart of the lineup then he needs to be sent to Gwinnett, plain and simple. There needs to be no other option.

If you truly believe that you have a superstar, one whose name has been mentioned in the same sentence as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Dave Winfield, Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, etc. then you don’t bring the guy up and bat him 7th or 8th.

You bring him up and treat him as he is, a superstar. If he’s not ready to be treated that way or the front office/manager doesn’t believe he is, then you leave him down.

If you’re interested in seeing how humble Jason Heyward is, follow him on Twitter. Or at least go spend a few minutes on his page.

link to twitter.com

Ferrariman
5 years 4 months ago

Umm.. I’m not sure if you consider 6th or 7th the heart of the line up or not, but that’s where pujols batted in 01.

5 years 4 months ago

That’s good info on Pujols. I don’t consider 3-4-5-6 the heart and the lineup is solid throughout. Whenever Heyward is brought up it will be a tossup between him and Escobar for the 6th and 7th spots. Jones, Glaus, Mccann is a solid 3-4-5.

5 years 4 months ago

That’s good info on Pujols. I don’t consider 3-4-5-6 the heart and the lineup is solid throughout. Whenever Heyward is brought up it will be a tossup between him and Escobar for the 6th and 7th spots. Jones, Glaus, Mccann is a solid 3-4-5.

5 years 4 months ago

That’s good info on Pujols.

I consider 3-4-5 the real heart and that’s not going to change. (Jones-Glaus-Mccann)

It looks like 6-7 will be between Escobar and Heyward, whenever it is that he comes up. To be honest with you, Escobar might be leading off if Nate Mcclouth continues to struggle the way that he is. Diaz could also lead off…

Speculation at it’s finest right?

5 years 4 months ago

That’s good info on Pujols.

I consider 3-4-5 the real heart and that’s not going to change. (Jones-Glaus-Mccann)

It looks like 6-7 will be between Escobar and Heyward, whenever it is that he comes up. To be honest with you, Escobar might be leading off if Nate Mcclouth continues to struggle the way that he is. Diaz could also lead off…

Speculation at it’s finest right?

Ferrariman
5 years 4 months ago

Umm.. I’m not sure if you consider 6th or 7th the heart of the line up or not, but that’s where pujols batted in 01.

KeiIgawa
5 years 4 months ago

.271/.345/.447. Put it in the books.

$1526717
5 years 4 months ago

Sounds about right to me.

$1526717
5 years 4 months ago

Sounds about right to me.

mw3
5 years 4 months ago

The kid should have been called up in September last year. He is already the best player on the team. Keeping him in the minors would be the equivilent of keeping Griffey Jr. down in 89 or Pujols in 2001 there is no reason except service time manipulation. And the comparison to Longoria is bogus he is more ready than Longoria was. Hell he might hit for a .330 avg much less obp. I would expect that his power may take a year or so to show up fully though.

wutangklanodb
5 years 4 months ago

I don’t know if the comparison to Longoria is “bogus” Longoria hit, .281 /.364/.526 in his rookie season. He lead the Rays to the World Series and was the unanimous rookie of the year, it’s pretty hard to say Heyward is more ready than Longoria was. The Braves would be ecstatic if Heyward could do what Longoria did in his rookie season.

wutangklanodb
5 years 4 months ago

My fault Longoria hit .272/.343/.531 in his rookie season

wutangklanodb
5 years 4 months ago

My fault Longoria hit .272/.343/.531 in his rookie season

mw3
5 years 4 months ago

Longoria was drafted out of Long Beach State and made his debut in his age 23 season. If he were anywhere close to the player Heyward is he never would have went to college. The comps for Heyward are Griffey Jr., Pujols and Arod. He is in that class of player. He bats left handed and I watched him go 5 for 5 against left handed pitchers in a game last year. He is a once a decade talent who might not hit for the power expected right away but will hit for a high average. It would be an insult to send him down when he is already the best all around player on the team.

5 years 4 months ago

So Longoria wasn’t ready after HS, what’s your point? Doesn’t mean he is a fantastic young player. Forget about age we’re talking about rookie seasons. Heyward would be lucky to have as good a rookie year as Longoria.

I’m a Braves fan & am so excited about Heyward. But some fans are acting like it’s a given he’s going to play great his rookie year.

wutangklanodb
5 years 4 months ago

I don’t know if the comparison to Longoria is “bogus” Longoria hit, .281 /.364/.526 in his rookie season. He lead the Rays to the World Series and was the unanimous rookie of the year, it’s pretty hard to say Heyward is more ready than Longoria was. The Braves would be ecstatic if Heyward could do what Longoria did in his rookie season.

mw3
5 years 4 months ago

Griffey Jr. and Pujols started on opening day their first year. Heyward is the same kind of talent, to send him down would be an insult to Heyward and the fans.

ReverendBlack
5 years 4 months ago

If you keep him down for even two weeks you get an entire additional YEAR of control. If he’s as good as you imagine, that’s a sacrifice you easily make. No-brainer.

tradex
5 years 4 months ago

The braves right now are looking good for 2010. The one thing they’re in desperate need of is some power. Yeah we got Chipper Jones. But he is on the verge of retirement and I don’t know what kind of health issues will come up this year for him. Yeah we got Glaus but he has yet to prove he is fully recovered and can get us the power we need. Brian Mccann is a stud and will provide us with some of that power we are looking for but we defiantly need one more good bat in the lineup. I think Heyward is not only the answer but can single handedly be the guy that helps the Braves get to the playoffs again.

tradex
5 years 4 months ago

The braves right now are looking good for 2010. The one thing they’re in desperate need of is some power. Yeah we got Chipper Jones. But he is on the verge of retirement and I don’t know what kind of health issues will come up this year for him. Yeah we got Glaus but he has yet to prove he is fully recovered and can get us the power we need. Brian Mccann is a stud and will provide us with some of that power we are looking for but we defiantly need one more good bat in the lineup. I think Heyward is not only the answer but can single handedly be the guy that helps the Braves get to the playoffs again.

tradex
5 years 4 months ago

The braves right now are looking good for 2010. The one thing they’re in desperate need of is some power. Yeah we got Chipper Jones. But he is on the verge of retirement and I don’t know what kind of health issues will come up this year for him. Yeah we got Glaus but he has yet to prove he is fully recovered and can get us the power we need. Brian Mccann is a stud and will provide us with some of that power we are looking for but we defiantly need one more good bat in the lineup. I think Heyward is not only the answer but can single handedly be the guy that helps the Braves get to the playoffs again.

Ferrariman
5 years 4 months ago

Echo..echo..echo…

Ferrariman
5 years 4 months ago

Echo..echo..echo…