Yesterday, elite prospect/future Hall of Famer/baseball god Jason Heyward, had a pretty big debut in Atlanta yesterday. It's gotten everyone super excited, because it's pretty much the best debut by a top Atlanta Braves outfield prospect since, well.. 2009.
As we can all remember, Jordan Schafer was Atlanta's Opening Day center fielder last season, after being rated as one of the 50 best prospects in baseball by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. And his first game as a Brave was pretty damn good. In fact, his debut might have better than Heyward's.
Conveniently, both debuts were on April 5th, and both hitters kicked off their careers but hitting home runs in their first major league at-bats.
Schafer's line: 2-for-3, 1 HR, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 1 RBI, 1 run scored
Heyward's line: 2-for-5, 1 HR, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 4 RBI, 2 runs scored
As we all know, Schafer proved to be pretty undeveloped as a hitter, and he's back in the minor leagues this season. He finished 2009 with a .273 wOBA (63 wRC+), due to minimal power (.084 ISO) and awful contact rates (64.4% contact rate, 37.7% strikeout rate).
Now, I'm not saying that Heyward won't be good this year. He's clearly better than Schafer, and few people don't consider him a truly special talent at this point. But a debut is just that: one game. We can certainly be optimistic on what Heyward will do in Atlanta this year, but as elite prospects like Matt Wieters, David Price and Jay Bruce have shown, even the most talented players often need to make adjustments at the game's highest level.
Heyward is on top of the world right now, but you still shouldn't fairly expect him to be much more than a solid regular, maybe a good one, this year. His time will come, and it should probably come soon. But even guys that aren't remotely ready for The Show can have a big day.
I still think Heyward's career will be special, but it's not remotely because he smacked around a mediocre Cubs pitching staff. It's because everything seems to point toward this kid being something else. Is anyone else excited for the arguments about who's the best right fielder in the National League, Heyward or Justin Upton?