As you might have noticed, we’re typically a little slow to unfold from the winter-long hibernation here at Bus Leagues. This is our third spring, and the routine is almost always the same: finish the season strong, fade away to virtually nothing from October to February, start working out the kinks in March, and really start firing on all cylinders in April. Just like the players, we need a little bit of spring training to get ourselves back in the groove.
I bring this up because it is the best explanation for our ignorance to-date of Braves minor leaguer Jason Heyward. Heyward is Baseball America’s top-ranked preseason prospect, although you wouldn’t know it from the way we (and, in fairness, everyone else) wax poetic about Stephen Strasburg. Not that there’s anything wrong with Strasburg – it’s just that Heyward is pretty darn good too.
In fact, here are three good reasons to keep an eye out for Heyward this season (besides the fact that Baseball America – and pretty much the rest of the baseball world – has already proclaimed his excellence):
- He Tweets – Not only does Heyward have a Twitter account, he’s active on it, taking time to answer questions from his 3,000+ followers. That’s where I found out that he prefers oatmeal raisin cookies to chocolate chip (BLASPHEMER!) and grew up a Yankee fan (…).
- He Has Already Drawn Favorable Comparisons – Bobby Cox is 68 years old, 69 in May. He’s been around baseball, and the Braves, for more than fifty years. So while his statement that the sound of Heyward’s line drives is “kind of like ol’ Hank Aaron’s sound” might initially be taken as an off-the-cuff utterance of a grandfatherly old man, it also has to be considered as the wisdom of a guy who has seen a lot of good players in his day. Oh, who am I kidding – it was a completely crazy thing to say. All it does is make the public’s expectations of Heyward even more unreasonable.
- He Destroys Stuff – Earlier this spring, Heyward’s bombs to right dented cars and smashed windshields in a parking lot used by Atlanta’s front office, requiring a net be put up for protection. Once you get past the fact that these people continued to park there – maybe someone familiar with the Braves’ spring training facilities could shed some light on that, because I find it hard to believe that there was NOWHERE else to park safely – you realize how awesome it is: a 20-year-old kid consistently hitting the ball 450 feet.
So yeah, Heyward is good. And truth be told, all of this got me thinking. Two years ago, we had a contest and gave Jay Bruce (the consensus number one prospect at the time) a nickname. Shouldn’t we do the same for Heyward? (I know what you’re thinking – what about Matt Wieters? Unfortunately, Wieters appears destined to go the way of the 1904 World Series – he loses out because the powers that be couldn’t get their crap together.)
I tossed the idea around Bus Leagues headquarters, where it was well received (not a surprise, really; giving people stupid nicknames is one of our raisons d’etre). A few ideas were tossed around – Hank; the J-Hey Kid; at one point, Pookie was mentioned (I think Eric might’ve been drinking) – but nothing definite. So what we can do is backburner this for the moment. It’s only early March, no need to rush things. If you, the reader, happens to think of one that works, leave a comment or email us. Pay it forward. And when we have a few, we’ll figure out some way to pick the best one.
But rest assured, Jason Heyward will be awesome. And he will be awesomely nicknamed. This is fact.