Heyward promoted to Gwinnett
When Jason Heyward arrived for his first Major League Spring Training in February, he said that his goal was to finish this season in the Majors. Nearing the end of a stellar season, the recently-turned 20-year-old prospect now finds himself just one step away.
While there’s a chance that Heyward’s ultimate goal will go unfulfilled this year, he’ll at least have the opportunity to attempt to help the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves win meaningful games over the next couple of days and weeks.
The Braves announced Saturday that Heyward had been promoted to the Gwinnett roster. After being promoted to Double-A Mississippi in early July, the highly-touted prospect had hit .352 with seven homers, a .446 on-base percentage and a .611 slugging percentage.
If injuries were to create a need for an outfielder in Atlanta, there’s a chance that Heyward could receive the call. But for now, it appears that his targeted Major League debut will likely occur during the 2010 season.
The Braves decision to promote Heyward was primarily based on their desire for him to help the Gwinnett club, which is one win away from clinching a spot in the International League playoffs.
“Jason has played well at Double-A,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “So he was the player the player development staff felt could help the Gwinnett club during the playoffs.”
Heyward, who combined to hit .322 with 17 homers and a .561 slugging percentage with Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach and Mississippi this year, batted third during his debut with Gwinnett on Saturday night.
When the Braves took Heyward with the 14th overall selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, they knew they had something special. But the young outfielder, who is scheduled to participate in the Arizona Fall League may have already exceeded early expectations.
With their midseason evaluations this year, Baseball America tabbed Heyward as the game’s top overall prospect.
One veteran scout said that Heyward’s talent, intellect and poise make him the most impressive prospect he’s seen since Derek Jeter. Another scout, who evaluated 24 clubs this season, said that Heyward was the only prospect that he provided with the highest grade possible.
In other Gwinnett-related news, the Braves provided their bullpen some more depth by purchasing right-handed reliever Vladimir Nunez’s contract. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, they promoted Jordan Schafer from Gwinnett and then placed him on the 60-day disabled list.