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.  

 
 

40 Comments

If Mr. Kemp was in Mississippi this week, and Tennessee last week, he knows what they need to do with Heyward. He just needs to figure out how to shuffle the cards in the logjam of guys at Gwinnett who don’t have a bright future in the majors. I take it Heyward can’t be added to Gwinnett’s roster without a release or demotion of another guy who is already there.
It is a tough call logistically, but it is time to make the move with Heyward.

I hope the Braves wait until after 8/11 to promote him. I was hoping to see him play when Mississippi comes to town.

Heyward has been outstanding but it is still just a small sample. I think a promotion no earlier than mid-August is appropriate. If he does well at Gwinnett then he should be given a legitimate shot at Atlanta in spring training.
http://moneyball.mlblogs.com/

Martin Prado was supposed to be out of tonight’s lineup just to get a break. But he might be unavailable while tending to an injured right ankle he suffered when he was hit with a line drive during batting practice. He was able to limp off the field on his own power. Will provide an update soon…Other pregame news: Chipper wasn’t too happy with the fist bump Bill Hohn exchanged with Marlins catcher John Baker last night. When approached Hohn said that there wasn’t anything to it.

The Braves have honored Jeff Bennett’s request to be released from his contract. With this announcement Thursday, the Braves revealed that they’d suspended Bennett’s pay on June 25, one day after he’d punched a door and broke his left hand. Bennett later filed a grievance.

Well there’s one less problem to deal with…hopefully Prado is ok, we really need him to make a run at the Wild Card…Mark is there any possibility we send some prospects to the Padres for Heath Bell? I had seen that they were only asking for 2-3 mid level prospects.

Prado is going to have an X-ray taken on his left ankle. I think I indicated right ankle earlier. Will provide an update when available.

Ugh.. well at least we didn’t trade Kelly. And if Prado is indeed hurt, then the Braves sans-Kelly would be totally screwed. Well, at least until Infante gets back, and who knows how effective he will be.
If Huddy is put in the rotation when he gets back, how effective do you think KK will be in the bullpen? I may be wrong, but it seems like he throws a lot of pitches in his first inning, then finds a groove, then starts throwing a lot of pitches again around the 4th/5th.

Gosh I hope Escobar and Prado are ok

Hey Mark please give an update on Yunel if you get one.

No X-rays taken on Prado or Escobar. Escobar has a contusion above his right wrist. Prado has a contusion above his left ankle. Both are listed as day-to-day. Escobar was hit with a pitch in the second inning and before the bottom half started.

Thanks do you think either will be out for a long period of time?

McLouth will be fine. Just in a slump. It’s way to early to pull the “what have you done for me lately.”

McCloud is really struggling. He looks horrible at the plate. I would not mind seeing Church in Center over the weekend and I think we will. He can’t even make contact.
Prado or Kelly can handle leadoff as well as McCloud has over the past month.

Ok just to clear things up…his last name is McLouth with a “th” at the end not a “d”.

just to clear things up, can somebody please explain why Greg Norton is still on the team. it is painful to watch him play now and I almost feel sorry for him. I don’t think he has the skills to play at this level anymore and he has cost the Braves the opportunity to win several games. Mark, can you help me understand?

List of reasons Diory Hernandez is on a major-league roster: he can “play” SS. List of reasons Greg Norton is on a major-league roster:………..I got nothing.

I think it’s safe to say Norton is the odd man out when Infante returns if he isn’t removed sooner.
http://moneyball.mlblogs.com/

Well when Infante returns the “can play SS” is no longer a factor (since Infante can) so I imagine Diory will be optioned. Even though Norton is more useless. By the way, Craig Kimbrel was promoted to AA Mississippi today and Zeke Spruill, who was having a fantastic year at Rome, was assigned to the GCL. Must be a roster/injury thing, because I don’t know why you’d move him down there. If anything he’d earned a promotion.

Julio Teheran turned in a heck of a performance tonight. 8.0 IP. 2 H. 1 BB. 11 K.

I saw Heyward & Freeman play when the Mississippi Braves were in Tennessee a week ago. By the way they played on that day I saw ‘em. Heyward overall is as good as any AAA Outfielder playing now. Freeman is where he ought to be, but I saw that he still had a lot of growing room. My guess from what I’ve read about him (& after seeing him play) is that he’ll be a September call-up next season. Heyward could very well be on our Opening Day roster in 2010, though. Jeff Lyman is another player that I took note of, he threw 7 shutout innings.

I think just as important as his play is how he handles himself in the clubhouse. His maturity, reportedly, impressed many people this Spring. He’s also played tremendously throughout the season. If he continues, I don’t think there’s any way you can wait until September of NEXT season to bring him up. Perhaps they’ll wait until June, as they did with Hanson, to keep him from gaining Super-2 status, but I don’t see a September 2010 call-up.

Any word yet on how expensive Chipper’s umpire conversation is going to be? Money? Time?
Wouldn’t that just be the crown jewel if he got suspended and Hohn got nothing again.

Super 2 and Jason Heyward will never be an issue, he is too good to sit on. Sitting back on a pitcher costs maybe 15 games. Sitting back on a stud everyday player affects 50-60 games and makes no sense. Heyward will pay his own way in attendance increase alone. I think bluesman was referring to Freeman when he said next September, and that seems reasonable based on his progress.
Heyward is a man amongst boys in AA and doesn’t need to waste any more time there. Finishing the season in Gwinnett and going through another playoff run will help him a great deal as well.

You’re talking about a guy who has a good chance to set records with how much he makes in arbitration. Super 2 will certainly be an issue. A rather large one.

You know the saying, “The customer is always right”? How does it work in baseball? Is it, “The umpire is always right?” I’m just curious. It just seems that, even when it’s obvious to everyone that the umpire was out of line, the burden is still placed on the players’ shoulders. With Hohn, it’s not about balls and strikes (that’s a whole ‘nother story)–it’s about his obvious need to pick a fight. Seeing him pull out that lineup card was awful and hilarious at the same time. That guy is a joke.

saw a video of heyward. he reminds me of chipper from the left side.

Rother, I think you make a good case, but I’m still inclined to think it will be a factor. I think if Heyward were a Yankee or Red Sox, etc., the economics would not play into it. But I think it will for the Braves.

Jason Heyward’s case is significantly different than that of Tommy Hanson or even Matt Weiters. When he hits Gwinnett, expect an increase in attendance of at least 1,000 tickets a night. Put him in Atlanta and stock the shelves.
Atlanta has an untapped fanbase that Heyward will draw from as the local kid star. It is a far different fanbase than Francoeur drew from. I’ve heard the talk directly from ushers at Turner Field about what they think the team really needs, and that’s an African-American star player. I’m not astute enough to make any claim to knowing the needs of any community, but I can promise you Heyward will pay his own way without any doubt, Super 2 or not.

Why not just trade Norton (for ANYTHING), and use Canizares as a backup first baseman and pinch hitter. I think the big knock on him is that he is extremely limited defensively, but Norton doesn’t play the field anyways…. at least Canizares had a little success in his short time. I’m not saying the guy is the next Fred McGriff but at least he wouldn’t do any worse than Norton this season….

Rother, I hope you’re right. And no one in their right mind would give up anything past a barrell of bats for Norton.

hey, it worked for Kerry Lightenburg

I have a feeling Heyward will arrive June 1, 2010 or September 1, 2009 then get sent down until July 1, 2010.

I have a feeling Heyward will arrive June 1, 2010 or September 1, 2009 then get sent down until July 1, 2010.

wow, i just heard from MLBTR that Adam LaRoche is coming back home to the ATL from the Red Sox in a 3 team trade with the Indians with Victor Martinez going to the Red Sox and prospects going to the Red Sox. Whom did Atlanta give up for LaRoche? Why would they get LaRoche with Kotchman in the fold???? please comment Mark!!!!

wow, i just heard from MLBTR that Adam LaRoche is coming back home to the ATL from the Red Sox in a 3 team trade with the Indians with Victor Martinez going to the Red Sox and prospects going to the Indians. Whom did Atlanta give up for LaRoche? Why would they get LaRoche with Kotchman in the fold???? please comment Mark!!!!

wow, i just heard from MLBTR that Adam LaRoche is coming back home to the ATL from the Red Sox in a 3 team trade with the Indians with Victor Martinez going to the Red Sox and prospects going to the Indians. Whom did Atlanta give up for LaRoche? Why would they get LaRoche with Kotchman in the fold???? please comment Mark!!!!

sorry my computer kept trying to add…

I saw Heyward here in Myrtle Beach. Other than pounding a HR into a stiff breeze, he totally smoked a single to center that ate up the center fielder and turned into a triple really quickly! It was the hardest-hit routine single I’ve ever seen. He is the real deal; and he needs to keep moving up as long as he’s hot!

I can’t wait until Heyward gets promoted to the Majors prolly in late season or Next year .Just give him time to develope some more .He’s doing great so far lets keep it that way.He’s batting .420 ,3 homers,34 hits out of 84 AB’s ,11 of the hits are doubles which is really good,2 triples,19 RBI’sin 23 games played ….I can’t wait to see the future for this kid…And lets not forget about Freddy Freeman either.He’s a solid hitter as well .

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