- Full name Jason Alias Heyward
- Born 08/09/1989 in Ridgewood, NJ
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 240 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Henry County
- Debut 04/05/2010
Drafted in the 1st round (14th overall) by the Atlanta Braves in 2007 (signed for $1,700,000).
View Draft ReportAlong with Brackman, Heyward has as much upside as any player in the draft. He possesses a rare blend of strong tools and feel for all phases of the game. He draws physical comparisons to Fred McGriff, while his tools are similar to Willie McCovey's and his approach is comparable to Frank Thomas'. Heyward's father played basketball at Dartmouth and his uncle played basketball for John Wooden at UCLA. He led McDonough High to the school's first state championship in baseball as a junior, when he was used as a center fielder, first baseman and pitcher. He'll play right field as a professional, where he's a solid-average defender with average arm strength. He's an average runner. His plate discipline and pitch recognition are outstanding, though some scouts left his games frustrated that he wasn't more aggressive. He rarely misses his pitch, and he shows above-average bat speed and a willingness to use the whole field. He has plus-plus raw power. Heyward will need to lower his hands in his set-up to improve his ability to get backspin on balls, helping his power translate into more home runs.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The 14th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Heyward signed for $1.7 million and since has emerged as the top position prospect in baseball. He earned Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year award after hitting .323/.408/.555 at three minor league stops, including a dominating performance at Double-A Mississippi. An oblique injury slowed him in early May, and he missed the Carolina League-California League All-Star game with a hip injury. Heyward recovered in time to play in the Futures Game and raised the issue about whether the Braves should call him up for the stretch drive shortly after his 20th birthday. He ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the high Class A Carolina and Double-A Southern leagues. The main reason Heyward remained on the draft board so long in 2007 centered on the limited number of times he swung the bat as a high school senior. Opponents rarely pitched to him and he refused to compromise his impressive command of the strike zone. He has continued to demonstrate uncanny patience as he has climbed the ladder in pro ball. That type of feel for the game is just one of the many intangibles Heyward brings to the field . He has a plan every time he steps in the box and makes adjustments between at-bats. Heyward has outstanding bat speed, uses the entire field well and can drive the ball to the opposite field. His short swing is a bit unorthodox, but it works and he should hit for a high average with a lot of power. Despite standing 6-foot-4, Heyward has solid-average speed. He has outstanding instincts on the basepaths and plus range in right field. His impressive body control allows him to make diving catches with relative ease, and his plus arm is one of the strongest in the minors with velocity, carry and accuracy on his throws. He also takes good routes on fly balls. Heyward briefly struggled with quality changeups when he reached Double-A but quickly adapted. Injuries are the other concern. They've limited him to just 876 pro at-bats, and he played in just 99 games in 2009 because of the oblique and hip injuries, plus a jammed heel in August. Then his Arizona Fall League stint was cut short with a hamstring strain that was also causing back inflammation. He needs to prove he's not brittle. Scouts who follow the Braves say Heyward was the best player they saw in the minor leagues last season. With the trade of former golden boy Jeff Francoeur in July and the expected free-agent departure of Garret Anderson, there are openings for Heyward to make his major league debut sooner rather than later. Atlanta wants to be patient, but he has improved every time he has been challenged at a higher level, including a stint in big league camp last spring as a non-roster invitee. Even if he opens 2010 at Triple-A Gwinnett, Heyward will be starting in Atlanta at some point during the year, and he has all the ability to emerge as one of the game's premier players .
The 14th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Heyward continues to leave many observers wondering why 13 teams passed on the five-tool outfielder. Signed for $1.7 million, he ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the low Class A South Atlantic League in 2008. He finished third in hitting (.323) and fourth in on-base percentage (.388) as one of the SAL's youngest players at age 18. Heyward is a prototypical right fielder with impressive size, athleticism and makeup. He swings a big bat from the left side, drawing comparisons to the likes of Willie McCovey, Dave Parker and Dave Winfield. Heyward has outstanding plate discipline and pitch recognition for a teenager. He has average speed and is an intelligent baserunner. Defensively, he covers a lot of ground in right field and has a plus arm with excellent carry on his throws. While there is no question he has power in his bat, Heyward went deep only 11 times in 2008. The Braves believe he'll hit more homers once he learns to use his hands more efficiently and looks for pitches to pound. He's still working on getting better jumps on balls hit over his head and improving his routes on balls hit to his right. Heyward will return to high Class A, where he ended 2008, but his mature approach and ability to make rapid adjustments soon will put him on the fast track. Atlanta's No. 3 hitter of the future could make his big league debut in 2010.
Another high-profile Braves pick from the Atlanta area, Heyward led Henry County to its first state title as a junior and batted .520 with eight home runs in 52 at-bats as a senior. He slipped to Atlanta with the 14th pick, mostly because opponents pitched around him so much in the spring that clubs had difficulty getting a good look at him. Signed for $1.7 million, he homered in his first professional game. Heyward has the physical attributes and instincts to be a star. His raw power is off the charts and his bat speed is nearly as good. He shows impressive plate discipline and pitch recognition. He's a good baserunner and has a plus arm with good carry. Heyward just needs to fine-tune his game. His patience leads to Frank Thomas comparisons, though he could be more productive by turning up his aggressiveness. He's discovering how to use his hands to drive the ball and will improve his batting average by using the entire field. His routes and ability to move back on fly balls need work. Though only 18, Heyward looks like a man among boys. He profiles well as a right fielder and should move quickly through the system, and he will open his first full season in low Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year was a monster on offense and defense, tearing through Myrtle Beach and Double-A Mississippi before reaching Triple-A Gwinnett shortly after his 20th birthday. "I saw a little bit of everything," Potomac manager Trent Jewett said. "He's the ultimate tools guy that also has a feel for the game. That's something that's very rare." There's little that Heyward can't do, as he projects at a potential plus-plus hitter with plus-plus power. He has uncanny strike-zone judgment for a hitter his age and can hit for power to all fields, as nearly half of his home runs went to the opposite field. He has outstanding bat speed and can turn on any fastball, and he also shows the ability to adjust to good offspeed pitches and drive them as well. He has good instincts on the basepaths and runs well for a player his size with average to a tick above-average speed. While Heyward's offensive tools are spectacular, he's also an above-average defensive right fielder. He has fine instincts and takes good routes to the ball, which gives him plenty of range in right field. He also has an accurate arm with above-average arm strength. Heyward's biggest weakness has been staying healthy. He appeared in 99 games this year, missing time in the first half because of a hip flexor injury and in late August after bruising his right heel stepping on first base.
After earning a promotion to Mississippi from high Class A Myrtle Beach in late June, Heyward put up the best numbers of his pro career. He hit for average and power, walked more often than he struck out and was efficient stealing bases, finishing the season in Triple-A Gwinnett shortly after turning 20. Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year, Heyward is a potential five-tool superstar. He has outstanding bat speed and plus-plus raw power that shows up in game situations, as he routinely puts the barrel to the ball, doesn't chase pitches out of the strike zone and recognizes offspeed pitches well, showing the hands to adjust to good breaking balls and the ability to hit for power to all fields. Heyward ran into some trouble in Double-A against good changeups, but as the season wore on he made adjustments and drove them for extra-base hits. He runs well for his size, with solid-average speed and good instincts on the bases. His quickness is also an asset in right field, where he has fine range and an accurate, above-average arm.
The 14th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Heyward was tabbed as the league's best batting prospect and most exciting player but the managers and was named the most outstanding prospect on the SAL's year-end all-star team. What's more, he finished third in the league in batting average (.323), fourth in on-base percentage (.388) and fifth in runs scored (88). And he accomplished most of this before turning 19 in August "You consider where he hit in the lineup [third] and the numbers he put up, it's pretty phenomenal," Ingle said. "He's quiet, and nothing really upsets him. He goes about his business the same way every day. You watch him and talk to him and you come away knowing the only thing on his mind is working as hard as he can to be a major league player." Scouts love Heyward's 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame. With his sweet lefthanded swing that projects to produce significant power numbers, he attracts comparisons to a young Dave Parker. He gets good jumps on balls in right field and has plenty of arm strength and accuracy to man the position at the major league level. Speed is his only tool that's not deemed above average, but he moves well for a big man and is a smart, aggressive baserunner. "He's so professional in the way he plays the game," Columbus manager Matt Quatraro said. "He's not out there trying to impress anyone during B.P. He's working on using his hands and driving the ball to the opposite field. He has major leaguer written all over him."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Outfield Arm in the Atlanta Braves in 2010
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Atlanta Braves in 2010
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Atlanta Braves in 2010
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Atlanta Braves in 2010
- Rated Most Exciting Player in the Carolina League in 2009
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the Southern League in 2009
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Atlanta Braves in 2009
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Atlanta Braves in 2009
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the South Atlantic League in 2008
- Rated Most Exciting Player in the South Atlantic League in 2008
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Atlanta Braves in 2008
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Atlanta Braves in 2008