I’m not really the person to write this; I don’t know a whole lot about prospects, and have only seen him play a couple of times. Suffice it to say, Heyward is a once-in-a-generation prospect, the sort of player every sort of evaluator puts at the top of their lists.
Heyward fell to the fourteenth pick in the first round of the 2007 draft; I don’t really understand why, as even out of high school he wasn’t considered too big of a signability risk. (Admittedly, that was an outstanding draft.) In twelve games in rookie ball, he established himself as a top prospect, hitting .302/.354/.488. He dominated Rome in 2008 — remember, he’s one of the youngest players in every league he’s in — hitting .316/.381/.473. After a brief hiccup in Myrtle Beach to end the season, he torched the place to the tune of .296/.369/.519 to start 2009, then was even better in Mississippi, .352/.446/.611, and finished up going 4-13 in three games in Gwinnett before being shut down with injuries.
Injuries are the only known hole in his armor. He walks nearly as much as he strikes out. He’s hit 29 homers in 1003 career minor league PA, and with 59 doubles shows big-time power potential. He’s a .318 career hitter, a good glove in right (who could probably handle center if necessary) and 26-31 as a basestealer.
There’s a lot to be excited about. At the same time, let’s be careful here. Post-integration, there are only about ten players who have had really great seasons at twenty years old, and actually only about ten more who have had good seasons. Since 1991, the former group includes A-Rod and the latter Justin Upton; that’s about it. If Heyward were to be league average, he would be about as good as Hank Aaron was as a twenty year old.
The way the roster is set up, I’m convinced that the Braves are intending for Heyward to start the year in the lineup, and that he would have to play himself off in spring training. Personally, I’m of the school that says better safe than sorry, and get him some work in at AAA. But when the Braves parted ways with Ryan Church, they pretty much sealed the deal from what I can tell.