Split Decisions: Apples And Oranges
Comparing Fukudome and Heyward
As part of our 19th annual Top 100
Prospects list, we present Split Decisions, where our prospect experts
explain why they favored certain players over others. Editors in chief
Will Lingo and John Manuel, executive editor Jim Callis and national
writer Chris Kline put together the Top 100 and defend their thinking. Here they compare two outfielders with dramatically different resumes: Kosuke Fukudome and Jason Heyward.
Some of these just come down to gut feel, such as when you're comparing an established Japanese star to a high school draft pick with 43 pro at-bats. Fukudome will be a solid U.S. big leaguer, but Heyward is going to be a star and a more productive hitter in the long run.
I'll take Heyward in a heartbeat. More power, plate discipline is probably a wash, and I like Heyward's arm strength better as a right fielder. Heyward should be somewhere near the top of this list for 2009.
I love both these players, but for now you have to give the nod to Fukudome because of his track record, even though I think Heyward has the tools to be a star. I remember Japanese fans memorably chanting his name in the 1996 Olympics, and as long as he can stay healthy I think he'll be the biggest Japanese success this side of Ichiro.
Heyward could end up as the top position player from the '07 draft. He has a ways to go, but if anyone should bet on upside over essentially a major league free agent, it's BA.