Heyward making bid for promotion to Gwinnett
While assessing prospects, baseball’s talent evaluator often say that a player will tell you when he’s ready for the next level.
With this in mind, Jason Heyward is certainly providing plenty of indication that he may not need to remain at the Double-A level much longer. But for now, the Braves are simply keeping an open mind regarding his immediate future.
While it currently seems far-fetched to imagine Heyward would end this season in the Majors, there’s certainly a chance that he could at least make his way to Triple-A Gwinnett within the next couple of weeks.
“We’ll continue to evaluate him and keep our options open,” said Braves director of player development Kurt Kemp who has spent the past few days watching Heyward and the other members of the Double-A Mississippi Braves.
In the 21 games he’s played since being promoted from Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach to Mississippi, Heyward has hit .438 with three homers, 10 doubles, a .517 on-base percentage and a .753 slugging percentage.
Still 19 years-old and just two years removed from his successful high school career in suburban Atlanta, Heyward is drawing comparisons to Andruw Jones, who broke into the Majors at 19 and two months later homered in his first two World Series at-bats.
Like Heyward did this year, Jones started the 1996 season in the Carolina League. After 86 games at the Class A-Advanced level he played 38 games in Double-A and then experienced a 12-game stint at the Triple-A level before getting his call to Atlanta.
When Jones arrived in the Majors, he had amassed 1251 at-bats in 349 games at the Minor League level. Entering Thursday, Heyward had compiled 776 at-bats in 209 Minor League games.
With this in mind, Heyward could certainly benefit from more Minor League development before being asked to test his skills at the Major League level. But within the next few weeks, there’s certainly a chance that he could be knocking on Atlanta’s door while helping Gwinnett continue its push toward an International League championship.
This is the first year the Braves have had their Triple-A affiliate in suburban Atlanta and they could certainly increase their attendance by bringing Heyward home for the stretch run this season. But before doing this, they have to make sure that he experiences the necessary development that will provide him the best chance to succeed when he likely gets his first taste of the Majors next year.
Heyward, who was named Baseball America’s top prospect through the first half of this season, is undoubtedly one of the most impressive prospects the Braves have produced. Along with being an athletic outfielder with a powerful swing, this mature teenager displays both confidence and an obvious respect for the game and his surroundings.
When Heyward first arrived in Mississippi, it was believed that he may not make his Atlanta debut until June next year. But all current indications provide reason to believe that he’s going to prove to the Braves that he’ll be ready long before that time arrives.
Anderson rounding into form: Braves manager Bobby Cox has been supportive of Garret Anderson throughout the season and his prediction that the veteran outfielder would round into form has proven to be valid.
While hitting .355 over his past 34 games, Anderson has raised his batting average from .253 to .302 and his slugging percentage from .364 to .465. He has hit four of his nine homers since the All-Star break.
Anderson’s good friend and former Angels teammate Casey Kotchman has also recently increased his production while hitting .307 with a .466 slugging percentage in his past 26 games.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Kotchman’s debut with the Braves. In the 129 games he’s played for Atlanta, the first baseman has hit .264 with eight homers and a .374 slugging percentage. Four of those eight homers have come over the course of his past 21 games.