Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The "J-Hey" Kid

This is the 20-year-old Atlanta Braves rookie phenom outfeilder Jason Heyward. I first saw him while photographing the 2009 Arizona Fall League baseball games and was not familiar with him at the time.

It turned out that Jason, who grew up in nearby McDonough, Georgia, was only a few short years into his pro baseball career but had moved quickly through the Braves minor league system, even moving up three levels, from Single-A ball to Triple-A ball during the 2009 baseball season.

Jason was named the 2009 Minor League Player of the Year by both Baseball America and USA Today,topping that off with a good showing during 2010 Spring Training. Jason put the icing on that cake by hitting a 476 foot home run on Opening Day, in his first Major League at bat, which came in front of the home crowd at Turner Field in Atlanta on April 5, 2010.

He launched that ball, pitched to him by Carlos Zambrano of the visiting Chicago Cubs, into the Braves bullpen in right centerfield. The good thing about that is that his teammates got the ball for him to put in his trophy case, instead of him having to try to bribe a fan out of giving him the ball for--well, who knows what.

Jason is now carrying the heavy weight of the pressure of expectation on his back, but he's a big, strong guy, who can handle it well. Perhaps he has what it takes to be a great player and community role model for the Atlanta Braves, just like Dale Murphy was many years before him.

As a former resident of the Atlanta metro area, back in the days when the Atlanta Braves were not quite the team they were in more recent time, my hat is off to Jason Heyward with hopes he has a long and accomplished Major League career. Perhap I'll see him enshrined in the Hall of Fame someday as well.

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