The Early Years
Jason Heyward was born in New Jersey but his baseball career began in the South where he played High School ball in McDonough, Georgia During his High School tenior he played 1st base and generated enough national recognition to be named to the prestigious AFLAC All-American team.
Many experts projected that Heyward would be a top 10 pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, but somehow he was still available when the Atlanta Braves went on the clock with the 14th pick of the draft. Having already extensively scouted Heyward, the Braves had an idea of the kind of potential he possessed and wasted no time in selecting him with their pick.
The 2007 MLB Draft Class has already yielded a number of high profile blue chip prospects such as Matt Wieters, Matt LaPorta, David Price and Madison Bumgarner that have broken into the majors. But Heyward stands out even among this elite peer group as the player with the most short term and long term potential.
Minor League Career
Through his first 127 Minor League games, Heyward hit at a .316 AVG / .473 SLG clip. This earned him the honor of being tabbed as one of the 5 best prospects in baseball prior to the 2009 season.
His 2009 Minor League campaign was equally impressive. He kicked things off by playing for Myrtle Beach where he flat out abused A+ pitching to the tune of .296 / .369/ .519.
Halfway through the season the Braves promoted Heyward to their AA affiliate in Mississippi. This prompted him to take his game to the next level by compiling a gaudy .352 / .446 / .611 over 47 games.
A few days before the close of the season the Braves promoted him again, this time to their AAA, the Gwinnett Braves
Prior to the start of the 2010 season Jason Heyward was named the Minor League Player of the year and earned the distinction of being the #1 rated MLB prospect by Baseball America and MiLB.com. Would these lofty expectations cause him to self destruct like so many highly lauded prospects before him? Not exactly.
The Big Show
Heyward made serious waves in 2010 MLB spring training. In his first spring training batting practice he dazzled teammates and spectators alike by crushing pitches so hard that one of his hits dented a Coke truck and another broke the sunroof of a car - both of which were sitting in the parking lot outside the field. This turned out to a precursor to a prolific spring training campaign that compelled the Braves to give the surging youngster a starting spot on their 25 man roster.
Jason Heyward made his official MLB Deut on April 5th, 2010 in style, hitting a home run in his first AB. He hasn't let up on big league pitchers ever since. In his first 43 MLB games he has put together some very impressive numbers, amassing a .287 AVG, .566 SLG, 9 HR, and 35 RBI. Equally impressive is his advanced plate discipline which is evidenced by his 28 BB / 34 SO ratio. That kind of discipline is rare even among seasoned MLB veterans and is all but unheard of among rookies - especially 20 year old rookies! He looks to be a dead lock for NL Rookie of the Year and will possibly even pull an Evan Longoria by also making the All-Star team.